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A Bunad for all Words: Jarle Hagen


orway’s traditional costume, the ‘bunad’, is sewn from fairytales and folklore, reminiscent of an agrarian society that once was. At the time when Norwegian society was establishing its own confederation, developing a separate written language and other national symbols of independence, bunads were being constructed as national icons of costume. Today, they represent a unique Norwegian identity. Norwegians outfit themselves in their bunads for moments of everyday life and in festivity, in times of sorrow and in rejoice. In fact, the costume-clad can be seen at nearly all Norwegian celebrations, especially special occasions such as baptisms, weddings and confirmations. Both women and men can be seen donning this apparel, though mostly women. Nearly 70 percent of all Norwegian women over the age of 15 own a bunad, while only seven percent of all Norwegian men of the same age. That being said, a bunad can be spotted in every significant stage or event throughout a Norwegian’s lifetime.

“traditions Today, old and new bunad are co-existing side

by side. Bunad culture is one of living development, new styles and old, streaming the past into contemporary ways.

Photos by Jarle Hagen



Norway is a narrow country with a long coast, shrouded by high mountains, deep valleys, elongated rivers and grassy plains – each location is unique, and appropriately, nearly every village and valley has its own cherished costume or bunad. Bunads offer a sense of social belonging, they are an identity marker that says something about your roots, your origins, where you call home. For well over a hundred years ago in several places across Norway, folk costumes were commonly used in living tradition. Even up until as recently as the 80s, one could find a few older

The List - Issue 10  
The List - Issue 10