The House of Tatterdemalion

Unfashionable, unskilled, inexpensive--but still sewing.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I recently discovered that a 'bunad' is the Norwegian traditional costume. In particular, I've been looking at them at this site. It's an incredible treasure trove of details, rich in embroidery, unique constructions and proportions, headscarves, wedding crowns, purses, silver fastenings, sashes, simple but elegant shirts, capes, aprons, men's costumes and women's. It's hard to choose favorites, but I was struck by the Rogaland's men's bunad, for it's combination of simplicity and opulence. It has a distinct look of non-fussiness, while at the same time being ready to rise to any occasion, no matter how momentous. It also doesn't look as uncomfortable as some of the very cropped coats in men's bunads.

It's even harder for me to choose a favorite women's bunad, as I like the way many of them look, and I think I'd want to combine details from many of them. I love the way the bodice back is cut in the Lofot bunad. I love the Telemark bunad, especially the very, very full skirt. I like the down-to-earth look of the Old Ringerike. The Voss apron and shirt might be my favorite shirt and apron, though it's hard to pick. And the Voss bridal costume is breath-taking. You should look at all the details in the beaded embroidery. I kind of get the feeling that the people from Voss were pretty well to do, as they have quite a bit of silver in their costumes. The Oppland bunads have an incredible amount of embroidery in intricate detail. It's all very inspiring.

Here's another interesting one, and it also sheds a glimpse into reality, as they note "On hot days during haymaking, they wore only the light everyday shift." Yeah, I'll bet! This one has a more unusual shirt for a bunad (most have white work embroidery), as well as more interesting information. This bunad has an interesting detail--the back of the bodice is fluted. If you go looking (I can't seem to re-find it) you may find the picture that shows the invisible lacing placket in the bodices of many bunads. (As a note that may help you when looking around the site, they sometimes use the word "skirt" as we would the word "jumper". Their "skirt" covers the entire torso, and fits like a loose fitting, sleeveless dress. I can't tell if that's always the way they use the word, though.)

I love looking at traditional costumes, and I've always found it mildly disappointing that the U.S. doesn't have any traditional costume. (How come everyone else gets to have all the fun?) It's only to be expected, of course, since the U.S. largely a country of immigrants. People in Norway trace themselves back to a particular part of Norway, but the people in the U.S. usually find their ancestors in other countries. I suppose that means I ought to go looking for the traditional costumes of Sicily, Ireland, and I think Germany (all places where my ancestors have come from).


Blogger Tatterdemalion said...

Oops, drat, and all that.

One of my older brothers informed me of the fact that none of the links were working on this. Of course not, the orginal website was using frames! Duh. Should have seen that one coming.

Anyway, they're all fixed now.

6:30 PM  

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