What is a Bunad?

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  • Written By: Janis Adams
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 January 2020
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Considered the national Norwegian folk costume, a bunad is worn by both men and women and reflects the region the person wearing it is from. Today, bunads are worn for traditional and festival celebrations, not just for folk dances, as they once were. The most popular occasion to wear a bunad is in observance of National Day of Norway or Norwegian Constitutional Day, which is celebrated on 17 May and commemorates the declaration of Norway as an independent nation.

A woman's bunad is traditionally a skirt worn with a highly embroidered blouse, over which is worn a much decorated vest or bodice of silk damask or calamanco. The skirt often will feature a type of bustle. Additionally, it is not uncommon to wear a shawl over one shoulder. Women do not traditionally carry purses with a bunad but will instead have a detachable reticule or small carryall that is worn at the waist and attached to a belt. A belt with a silver ornamentation is always worn as a part of the ensemble.


For the men, the bunad features either knicker-length or full-length pants of one color. The vest traditionally favored as a part of the costume is usually the most ornate piece of the outfit and will have the same motif embroidered on it as the corresponding woman's outfit from the same region. A plain jacket is often worn, and will be made in the same material as the pants. Some more flamboyant designs will use a jacket of a differing color from the pants.

Both men and women have head coverings that are often worn as part of the regional costume. For women, a matching bonnet is worn, but is not mandatory to complete the costume. Flower motifs are commonly used on those designed for women, and the specific motif will be a common theme seen on each piece of the costume, including on the bonnet. If a hat is worn by a man, it is not usually ornate like the woman's bonnet, but instead is simple and will have the same color as the background of the bunad itself.

With the increasing popularity of the bunad, it has become important that standards be set so that regional traditions are maintained. National and local councils have now been instated in an attempt to maintain regional standards. These councils attempt to regulate the use of material, color, and ornamentation in the creation of the costumes.


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Post 1

There are a few portions of this article that miss the mark a bit. For example, if and how a shawl is worn depends on the region. If you are just getting a big picture view, this will get you started. If you need to turn in a report or really have a grasp on the topic, you will want to dig a little deeper. Have fun with your research!

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