The Fusa Bunad is loaded with symbolism. Both the metal chain lace and the bead patterns are intended to protect against evil spirits, nightmares and other horrifying destinies.
It was Anni Bolstad who began to look for information about the old traditional costumes from Hålandsdalen, and she made the first reconstructed Fusa Bunad at the end of the 1970s. She is considered a pioneer in Norwegian folk costume design.
Some years later, Else Bodil Gjøn continued the design work to make the Bunad as correctly as possible in relation to the old costume tradition.
The Bunad is based on old traditional garments found in Hålandsdalen from around 1840. This is why the costume is known as ‘The Fusa Bunad anno 1840’. One could also call it the ‘Perletampdrakta’ (In English: ‘The Beaded Rope Suit’), as the locals do, but there are uncertainties whether other people would understand what it means. Not every Norwegian knows what a ‘perletamp’ is, but to make it clear: It is the beaded rope hanging from the belt at the center front of the Bunad.
Thousands of Beads
Both the rope and the wide belt are decorated with thousands of beads in beautiful patterns. Only a married woman is allowed to use the beaded rope. The belt is used by both married women and unmarried girls.
The female costume from Fusa is regarded as one of the most colorful folk costumes in Norway, based on materials from 1820 to 1850. It is a reconstruction in which all items are accurately replicated by old garments that belonged to the same Bunad customs, both geographically and temporally.
Fusa, Os and Samnanger municipalities are considered as the same costume area, and in addition one can see similarities with the neighboring areas.
In the early 1800’s, Fusa, Os and Samnanger were one and the same parish, and although the area has been divided into various municipalities and parishes throughout the period, the Bunad customs had many common features.
The Fusa Bunad was reconstructed over a long period of time starting in the late 1970’s. It was presented and put into production in 1998, but like most folk costumes, – the design work never really ends.
The costume was designed by locals, in collaboration with the The National Council of Folk Costumes in Norway. Their conclusion of the reconstructed Fusa Bunad was:
‘The female Fusa Bunad with all its different shape variants and decor variations is entirety outstanding. The great design work gives a good impression on how the formal folk costumes for married and unmarried women were like at the time between the 1820s to the 1850s’.
The council is very pleased with the design work and write in their statement that the materials, the sewing design, embroidery, eyelets, bead threading, knitting and bobbin laces are of extremely high quality, and is very close to the original garments, – both in terms of materials and workmanship.
Before the costume came into production, many people in the area used a Bunad with influences from traditional costumes from the Hardanger area. This costume is still in use, in addition to this reconstruction.
Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen
Photos: On top and bottom: Bunad-magasinet, between: Sando