Norway’s Bunad police / Columns / The Foreigner

Norway’s Bunad police. The force may be out in force again this year, policing the streets to ensure continuity of tradition on 17th May, Norway’s National Day. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what a “right” and “wrong” national costume (bunad) is. Most patterns are the result of a careful reconstruction process regarding those which are in danger of being forgotten. It is a common misconception that the costumes’ patterns are free to copy, but in most cases, the bunads are copyrighted. This has led to a distinction between traditional bunads and bunad-like costumes, which are also called festdrakt.

bunad, 17thmay, syttendemai, nationalcostume, paywall



The Foreigner Logo

The Foreigner is an online publication for English speakers living or who have an interest in Norway. Whether it’s a glimpse of news or entertainment you’re after, there’s no need to leave your linguistic armchair. You don’t need to cry over the demise of the English pages of Aftenposten.no, The Foreigner is here!

Norske nyheter på engelsk fra Norge. The Foreigner er en engelskspråklig internett avis for de som bor eller som er interessert i Norge.

Google+ Google+ Twitter Facebook RSS RSS



Columns Article

LATEST:

}

Norway’s Bunad police

Published on Monday, 16th May, 2016 at 22:32 under the columns category, by Tove Andersson.
Last Updated on 18th May 2016 at 10:07.

The force may be out in force again this year, policing the streets to ensure continuity of tradition on 17th May, Norway’s National Day.

17th May parade with national costumes
This picture shows bunads in Stavanger.17th May parade with national costumes
Photo: ©2016 Michael Sandelson/The Foreigner


Everyone seems to have an opinion on what a “right” and “wrong” national costume (bunad) is. Most patterns are the result of a careful reconstruction process regarding those which are in danger of being forgotten.

It is a common misconception that the costumes’ patterns are free to copy, but in most cases, the bunads are copyrighted. This has led to a distinction between traditional bunads and bunad-like costumes, which are also called festdrakt.

“A woman sat down beside me, pulled my bunad skirt and criticized the embroidery. She might have been from the national costume police,” a young woman wrote online after her experience on one National Day. “I had not asked her personal opinion, and the stitching is good enough for me.”

There may now be an answer, however, with a tome detailing national costumes from Norway’s, 19 counties. It provides an insight into how this came about.

The starting point for research behind the encyclopedia was ethnographer Bjørn Sverre Hol Haugen's interest in folk dance. His exploration of bunad traditions provides an understanding of why there are so many different ones in Norway.

With 1,089 pages and more than 1,800 images of 400 beautifully-embroidered wear, the Norwegian Bunad Encyclopedia has become as heavy as the Bible. Attention is also given to both Sami bunad (kofte) and other outfits, such as the Viking costume, as well as children’s national costumes.

There are also stories behind the more than 1.800 photos, such as the one regarding a national costume that was sent to him from western Norway’s Hardanger region using the night bus, with a model being flown in for a photo shoot.

Moreover, there is a chapter on “bunad etiquette”. This tradition is no joke, as everyone in Norway has heard of what are termed as being “The Bunad Police” (an unofficial taskforce). According to Mr Haugen, it is all about safeguarding the cultural heritage, to such a degree sometimes, that it could be called protectionism.

The author has consulted Norsk institutt for bunad og folkedrakt (NBF), an national institute for bunad research and advice. The Institute provides information on bunad tradition as the basis for today's national costumes. The archive consists of 170 000 registered national costumes.

Mr Haugen presents the five categories that the Institute defines as being a national costume – though he uses a Swedish definition that does not distinguish between free “compositions” and scientific reconstruction.

“All bunads and national costumes similar to bunads are represented,” he writes in the preface.

It seems as though regulations on how to stay within the bunad tradition are many, and the encyclopedia also contains an overview of special themes like bunad shoes and bunad silver.

The Norwegian National Costume Encyclopedia was first published in 2006, then again in 2013 by Cappelen Damm.



Published on Monday, 16th May, 2016 at 22:32 under the columns category, by Tove Andersson.
Last updated on 18th May 2016 at 10:07.

This post has the following tags: bunad, 17thmay, syttendemai, nationalcostume, paywall.





  
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!