The Reconstructed Graffer Bunad from Gudbrandsdalen

The origins of Bunad traditions in Norway are many. Some Bunad designs have historically affiliation to what kind of fabrics and materials that were available at the time, while others are composed in retrospect based on findings from ancient textiles. It is not an easy task to compose an entirely new Bunad. The best Bunad designers are scanning old houses to find material remains, as it was common to insulate old houses with textiles and newspapers. But the job does not end here. When the materials are found, the design work begins.

This is common to all Norwegian Bunads. They are either historically authentic, or re-designed from old costumes. Anyone who owns a Bunad, consider themselves as “Bunad Police” and it is extremely important that all traditions are maintained.

As a part of ThorNews’ Bunad series, a description follows of the reconstructed women’s Grafferbunad from Lom, Oppland County.

The first Grafferbunad was sewn in the 1930s and is based on an old, blue ‘stakk’, a long wool skirt. After extensive work it was considered to be fully developed in 1952. Since then it has achieved great popularity and has become an inspiration for many other costumes. It is made from a cut that was common in Gudbrandsdalen around the 1830’s – a laced top with long skirt.  The Grafferbunad’s vest is sewn by hand, and the traditional custom seam is thus preserved as an important cultural heritage of this area.

The desire to provide a genuine Bunad in which all parts are from the same local area has resulted in a new costume: The reconstructed Grafferbunad.

The starting point was to put the popular Grafferbunad into its proper context: To reconstruct a complete Gudbrandsdal Bunad from the late 1700’s. When the Grafferbunad and other embroidered costumes were developed, it was made from a contemporary point of view. This meant that in addition to a selection of garments one had to study what was previously written about the Bunad tradition in the same area. Paintings and drawings were also important sources. After sufficient documentation was provided, the real design work began.

The original blue skirt is from the late 1700’s. Based on the original skirt, the adjustments are primarily made within the colors of the embroidery in relation to those who have been used in recent years. These new colors are as close to the original costume as possible.

Original Bunad traditions suggest a two-piece costume: A laced vest that runs a few inches over the skirt. The shape of the vest is a well-preserved design that originates from the Graffer farm. It is from the same era as the skirt. The fabric of the laced top is reconstructed by Ragnhild Bleken Rusten. The same vest is also used in the women’s costume from Gudbrandsdalen in the 1700’s.

The shirt is also from the Graffer farm, and is decorated with white seam embroidery. It is a copy from an original shirt located in the collections at Maihaugen Open Air Museum in Lillehammer. The hat is a so-called ‘botthuve’, a type of hat that originates in Gudbrandsdalen. Fabrics and colors may vary, but older women are likely to have used darker hats than younger girls.

The entire Bunad is sewn by hand, keeping up with the seam traditions from the 1700s. The reconstruction work was carried out in close cooperation with the Bunad- og folkedraktrådet (The National Council of Folk Costumes in Norway).

The reconstructed Grafferbunad meets the Council’s requirements for documentation, and has received the Council’s acknowledgement and a diploma.


Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews

Photo: On top: Norskflid, below: Bunad-magasinet

Source: Bunad-magasinet (In Norwegian only)

Categories: Bunad, Culture

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