The Bunad tradition has its roots in local dress customs in the Norwegian pre-industrial agrarian society. Many folk costumes went out of use in the early 1800’s, but got its renaissance through the romantic nationalism around 1850. The Bunads were therefore ‘upgraded’ from folk costumes to national costumes.
For several years, Odd Arnfinn Tømmerholen worked with the reconstruction of a male Bunad from Hedemarken in Hedmark County. In 1986, his work was approved by The Norwegian Institute of Bunad and Folk Costumes. The reconstructed male Bunad from Hedemarken was born.
The fashion among people in the lowlands of Hedemarken stood out from the highlands. The traditional clothes became ‘passé’ because the people were inspired by urban clothing, especially from Oslo. Moreover, Hedemarken had a lush landscape with many large farms. The most powerful farmers were well equipped with silver and money. Based on this, we can see that the costume traditions in this area were marked by prosperity.
In 1845, Ivar Aasen (Norwegian philologist and poet) described the urban environment he observed in Hedemarken:
‘The farmers here did not look like the farmers in Hallingdal, Telemark or Bergenhus. They looked like lords, where they sat in the sofa, dressed in coats and smoked their silver gilded pipes’.
In the development of the reconstructed Bunad from Hedemarken they had to go back to the 1700s to rediscover original clothing customs. Like other rural communities, Hedemarken was also characterized by good craftsmanship where fabrics such as leather and wadmal were used.
The reconstructed male costume from Hedemarken consists of the following garments: Wadmal jacket with long joints, knee length pants in elk leather or wadmal, vest, linen shirt with embroidery, suspenders, stockings and a blue hat. The Bunad also consists of specially designed silver in form of buttons, knee-buckles, cufflinks and shoe buckles. The silver is molded and designed by Bjørn Tannum in Fredrikstad.
The most important garment for this Bunad is the vest. Three different vests were reconstructed: The first is a striped empire vest made of wool. It is based on an original vest from Løten around the beginning of the 1800s. The second type is a silk vest from the same time period and originates from Afset farm in Brøttum. The third vest has no accurate documentation, but it was made of linen and originates from Afseth farm.
The three vests have very different expressions. The man is free to choose based on his personal preferences: From the elegant silk vest, to the colorful woolen vest or the neutral, yet so stylish linen vest.
A variety of garments within male Bunads is not common. The reconstruction of female costumes has long been a priority, but now we see a steady increase in the development of male costumes. Perhaps we now enter a new renaissance of the Bunad tradition that our national romantic forefathers had 150 years ago?
Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews