Thursday, March 3, 2016

Overview of Norwegian Costumes part 3A, the West

Hello all, 
this is part three of my overview of Norway, even if I published them out of order. This  will cover the west of Norway from south to north, with the exception of Hordaland, which will be the subject of my next article. This area is in shades of pink on the map below.

The National Bunad Council Bunad- og Folkedraktrådet , the authority on national costumes appointed by the government, has developed five categories to grade modern day bunads according to ‘authentic’ regional folk clothing:
Category 1 – a bunad that represents a ‘final’ link’ in the development of a folk costume.  This is basically an original folk costume that has taken on the function of a bunad.
Category 2 – a bunad that has a background in a particular folk costume that is out of use but not forgotten.  It is generally reconstructed from first-hand knowledge. Actual old garments exist.
Category 3 – a bunad that has been reconstructed from preserved folk garments which reflect the actual time and region of the piece.  Pictures and writings are used as sources in reconstruction.
Category 4 – a bunad that has been made based on random and incomplete folk material.  Missing pieces have been designed to match the style of the materials.
Category 5 – a bunad that has been completely or partially ‘freely composed’.  It was the 1800s bunad movement that has given these types of bunad their status.
New ‘bunads’ that are being designed every year, must go through the strict judgement process of the National Bunad Council in order to be classified as a proper ‘bunad’.  The council is very strict in making sure new additions follow closely the traditions and history of the area.  Because of this, many designs today, even though they have the same function as a bunad, generally don’t make the cut and thus can not be called ‘bunads’.  They receive the name drakt. 

Costumes are readily available in Norway, there are many businesses which make them. These are called Husflid. They are, however, expensive, as the Norwegians believe in paying a living wage to people who do things like embroider or weave by hand.  For every one of these costumes, whether bunad or drakt, there is at least one sewing house, or husflid, which specializes in making it.

So let us continue.

This is the center of Norway's petroleum industry. The name seems to be taken from that of an ancient Norse tribe that lived in this area.

There is only one bunad for this province that has any historical authenticity. It is worn over the entire province. There are various local costumes, but they are all mostly made up, cat 5. I will cover them after.

Rogaland Mens Bunad
There are two men's bunads. Both are in common usage. There was a very sharp one designed in the 1920's, after various museum pieces. It features a vest of patterned brocade, and red piping on the jacket and breeches or pants.
cat 4

The second is a more recent reconstruction of an older, more colorful type of costume from the early 1800s. It was designed in 1986. 
cat 3

Rogaland Womens Bunad
There is one bunad, but it comes in several variations. The caps and shawls are copies of actual old garments. As several of them were found, the embroidery of any of them may be used. These variants are named for the districts in which they were found. The same embroidery is copied onto the aprons and pockets. The bodice is of silk damask or brocade, and can be one of many colors. It may be waistlength or have a gathered peplum. The skirts are plain, but may be black, blue, or green. The caps may be trimmed with lace, and sometimes a small tulle scarf is worn over them, with a bow in back.
cat 4

Here is a map which shows where the original shawls and caps were found.

A quick view of the various embroidery patterns.






The woman on the left is wearing the Erfjord embroidery. The one on the right has Tjelmeland.



In recent years, more embroidered shawls have come to light, and those designs are also used.

There are also several composed drakts that exist in Rogaland, all cat 5.

This is not linked  with any particular part of Rogaland. cat 5

This municipality is in the southeast, on the border with West Agder. The bunad was a free composition which was finished in 1998. cat 5,_Norway

Egersund or Eigersund
This municipality is north and west of Lund. It has two costumes, both cat 5


This is a district just south of the capitol, towards the center of the province. This district has two costumes.
This bunad was presented in 1980

cat 5

This one is called the Karen and Knud drakt, for women and men, respectively. Presented in 1982 and 1993. cat 5


This is a municipality just south of Stavanger. The bunad is called Leirfivel. cat 5

This city is the center  of administration for Rogaland. 
They have two different bunads, both cat 5



This municipality is in the northwest of Rogaland, on the coast. This was designed  in 2001 and is meant to symbolize the history of the area. cat 5


This is an island and municipality off the northwest coast of Rogaland. The bunad was a free composition in 1984. The mens bunad was designed later. both are cat 5


This is the most complex province in terms of folk costume. In Hordaland are three bunads which are category one, living traditions down to the present day, as well as many that are reconstructed and a couple which were designed.  I will devote a separate article to this province.

Sogn and Fjordane
This province is home to two Unesco world heritage sites.

There are three districts in this province, each of which has basically one bunad. Going from south to north.


By 1900, folk costumes were no longer worn in Sogn, however, there was a wealth of preserved garments which enabled the reconstruction of the bunad in various forms. These include those for married women, unmarried girls and children as well as those for everyday and formal occasions. Married women wore a white  headdress, which they continued to wear even after they gave up the rest of the costume.

The Inner and Middle Sogn Womens bunad.
This was revived in the early 1900s. A green silk blouse could also be worn under the bodice by married women.
cat 4

This woman is wearing the green blouse, but has omitted the headdress, which is incorrect.

This girl is unmarried according to her bunad. Unmarried girls wear headbands or kerchiefs.

Both married women and unmarried girls could wear a plastron under the bodice for more formal occasions.

Recently a reconstructed bunad has been released for Inner and Middle Sogn. It does not differ that much, but offers more options. The same rules apply for married vs unmarried women for the headdress, but unmarried girls may wear a jacket under the bodice. Little girls wear a bonnet.
cat 3

Mens bunad from Sogn

This also has an early 20th cent version. cat  4

As well as a recently reconstructed version. cat 3

This is a former municipality in Outer Sogn on the coast, which has now been combined with the municipality of Gulen. This is the only bunad which I have found from Outer Sogn.

There is one bunad for this district, with a few variants. There was much material available to reconstruct this bunad. A new reconstruction was done recently, but it did little except make more variety available and change minor details. One notable detail is that unmarried girls have red piping on their hats, but married women have black. This is a detail that one has to look closely to see.
old bunad cat 4, reconstructed cat 3

Good image, but this woman is wearing a cap of the wrong shape.

Here you can see the red edging on the girls' caps.

There is only one bunad for Nordfjord, but it has many variants. The original bunad was launched in 1927. There was an attempt to revise the bunad in 1947, but after doing research, the committee found little that needed changing. A variety of apron, pocket and shirt embroideries exist. cat 4

Møre and Romsdal
The name of this province was controverted for quite a long time. The three districts in this province each have more ties to the next province over rather than to each other. This is evident in the costumes, Sunnmore to Nordfjord, Romsdal to Oppland, and Nordmore to South Trondelag.

Bunads for this district were designed in the 1920's, copying embroidery from old bodices and aprons. They are all of the livkjol type, with differing embroideries from different municipalites. Refer to the map above to find their locations. There were apparently costumes worn within living memory at the time, but they were too plain to be adopted. Recently there has also been a reconstructed bunad.

Mens Bunad
There is a bunad from the 1920s 
cat 4

There is also a more recently reconstructed bunad
cat 3

Reconstructed Sunnmøre bunad
cat 3

Inner and north Sunnmøre

These are all variants of the same bunad, each based on a different old apron which was found and copied in various locations. The cap may be worn with or without the kerchief. The married womens kerchief is embroidered all in black, while the unmarried girls' kerchief is embroidered in various colors. A silk scarf is worn around the base of the kerchief. I will start in the north and work clockwise around.
cat 5



This is the most famous version of this bunad, because it has been worn by the royal family. There were two different groups which designed the bunad, one in Oslo, and the other in Sunnmøre itself. The embroidery on the bodice differs, likely the Oslo group copied a different bodice. 

Oslo variant

Sunnmøre variant



Sykkylven I

Sykkylven II

This was a former municipality which was  located around the fjord of the same name. It now forms the eastern part of the municipality of Ørsta. In the first image it is on the left.

Ørsta bunad
This is for the village of Ørsta and the former municipality of that name, which forms the eastern part of the current municipality. This bunad differs in that there is no apron, and the embroidery is done on the skirt instead. cat 5

South and Outer Sunnmøre
This bunad differs in the bodice, which is made of a brocade material with a different cut. The brocade is orange on one side and red on the other. Either side may be worn facing out. There are two variants, one from Dalsfjord which is used for all of south Sunnmøre, and one from Vigra which is used for outer Sunnmøre. 

This was a former municipality found around the fjord of the same name. It now forms the western part of Volda municipality. The apron embroidery is similar to that of neighboring Nordfjord. cat  5,_M%C3%B8re_og_Romsdal

Vigra is an island and a former municipality on the coast. It now forms the north part  of the municipality of Giske. The bunad is worn all along the coast. cat 5


This image shows Vigra on the left, and Dalsfjord on the right.

There are three basic bunads from Romsdal, which reflect different periods. 
The first bunad to be presented in the 20th cent, based on very good research into 19th cent costume resembles that of western Oppland.

Rutastakk fra Romsdal
cat 3

While the rutastakk suited the pietistic mood of the 19th cent, its simplicity and quiet dark colors were not met with approval by the people of the 20th cent, who wanted a colorful, embroidered bunad. Thus research was done, and bunads were designed based on embroidered bodices from the 18th cent. There were four of these, all cat 5

Mens bunad

Bolsøy Bunad
This is the best known of the four, based on a bodice found in the former municipality of the same name, which is currently part of the municipality of Molde.

Vågstranda Bunad
This village is on the south bank of the Romdalsfjord, in the northwest of the municipality of Rauma.

Rødven Bunad
This village is on the Rødvenfjord, just south of where it empties into the Romsdalfjord, in the northeast of the municipality of Rauma.

Malo Bunad
This bunad was designed by Anne Malo, based on material found in the Romsdalmuseum.

Reconstructed Romsdal Bunad
This is based on the clothing of the 18th cent, and features  some of the same embroideries as the 20th cent designs.
cat 3

The whitework from this region is famous, and there are many designs used in the bunad. The apron may be of linen with white openwork, or of silk plaid. There are likewise two headdresses, the older is called linhatte, and is made of white linen with openwork embroidery, the more recent, from the 1800's is called piklue, and is a pointed cap made with black silk that has multicolored embroidery around the base. This bunad is worn all over the district except in the two easternmost municipalities. cat 3

Mens Bunad
There is a bunad which was designed in 1922 based on old pictures and interviews, with a brown jacket and embroidered blue vest. cat 5

There is also a reconstructed bunad, based on clothing from around the year 1800. cat 3
This can be worn with black wool knickers or natural suede knickers.

Rindal Bunad
This municipality is landlocked and lies at the eastern end of Nordmore. It borders South Trondelag on three sides, and the costume reflects this. cat 3

Aure and Hemne
Aure is in the northeast of Nordmore and Hemne in the southwest of Trondelag. The bunad is worn in both provinces. cat 3

This concludes part three. I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative.
Thank you for reading. 

Roman K.

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 Source Material:
Aagot Noss, 'Draktskikk i Aust-Telemark', Oslo, 2010
Kari-Anne Pedersen, 'Folkedrakt blir Bunad', Cappelen Damm, 2013
Bjorn Sverre hol Haugen, 'Norsk Bunadleksikon' Oslo, 2009
Kjersti Skavhaug et al, 'Norwegian Bunads', Oslo, 1991
Heidi Fossnes, 'Norges Bunader og Samiske Folkedrakter', Oslo, 1993
Ellen Scheel et al, 'Bunad-Brodering', Oslo, 1997
Janice Stewart, 'The Folk Arts of Norway', University of Wisconsin, 1953
Guvnor Traetteberg, 'Folk Costumes of Norway', Oslo, 1966, 1976
Thorbjorg Ugland, 'A Sampler of Norway's Folk Costumes', Oslo, 1996
Laila Duran, 'Scandinavian Folklore vol I - III', Sweden, 2011-2013

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