Text in english

Black bunad with a short jacket.
The most common “bunad” today.

This is the most worn "bunad" in recent time.  It dates back to the 1850 and is a further development of the “korttrøye kledu” (suit with a short jacket).  In the older days the shirt and waistcoat were exceptionally short, and the trousers were extended from the waist up to compensate for this. Recently the jacket and waistcoat are made longer and the trousers have developed a more normal shape. They still call it “korttrøye kledu” (short jacket suit) even if the jacket is longer.  The bunad can be worn with long trousers or knee length trousers.  Throughout times the “bunad” has been influenced by fashion, around 1970 the trouser leg was quite tight with flares.   Now it has a more comfortable fit. The jacket was made form “vadmel” a thick woolen cloth, it’s now made from “drape” a thinner and more user friendly cloth.  It has black ornamental stitching at the bottom. The collar is made from velvet and folded down, so are the lapels but made in normal cloth. The jacket has a row of silver buttons on either side of the opening, but no buttonholes.  It should be worn open. On the bottom of the sleeves are ornamental stitching in black and also a silk band. Two or three silver buttons on either sleeve.    
The front of the waistcoat is made from the same cloth as the jacket, the back is made from silk or cotton. The lapels are folded down and fastened with a small button on either side.  The waistcoat is double breasted with two rows of silver buttons, slightly smaller then those on the jacket.  Two pockets on either side.
The trousers are black and of the same cloth as the jacket and waistcoat, either knee length or long.  The long trousers are worn for best and everyday, the knee length trousers for celebrations.  These days the trousers have a buttoned fly.  In the olden days the trousers were made from thicker cloth and had a square at the front that could be folded down, buttoned at the front and at the sides. These trousers were called “lemmebrok”.  The knee length trousers have silver buttons or a buckle by the knee.  Braces were worn to keep the trousers up.
Various kinds of hats or caps have been worn throughout the years, even top hats.  Ola Perstølen’s grandfather had a special hat, this has been copied and this is the hat they usually wear today.  We will come back to the accessories like socks, bands to keep the socks up, necktie, shirt, ornamental cuffs, knives, watches and other silver ware. 

“Fiskekjølkji” – Bunad with a long jacket.

This is probably the oldest model there is, dates back to the early 1800 and was worn until 1900. After that is has hardly been worn at all.  It was mostly used in the lower part of the valley, Nes and Flå, but could also be seen in the rest of the valley.  The short jacket version was in use from around 1850.   
The jacket called "fiskekjølkji" was made in black “vadmel” (as explained before) or of a thinner cloth. The collar is folded up and trimmed with black velvet.  The jacket has a row of silver buttons on either side, but no button holes.  The sleeves are quite narrow and the shoulders have special stitching.  The back has three triangles fitted, which makes the jacket “float” in a special way.  These triangles looks like the skis on a sledge and that is why it is called "fiskekjølkji", which means just that.

The waistcoat is usually made from the same cloth as the jacket.  Other material can be used. They usually used what they had at hand and what they thought was good enough.  For weddings the material used was often brocade.  This was also common practice in other valleys i.e Gudbrandsdalen and Numedal.  It has two or three rows of silver buttons and buttonholes.  The collar is folded up and the lapels are folded down and fastened with a silver button and a buttonhole.  The trousers, either long or knee length, is made from the same cloth as the jacket and it has a square at the front which can be folded down, buttoned at the top and at the sides.  It has a row of silver buttons by the knee.  The shirt is made from linen or cotton, with various types of embroidery, mostly stitched with white cotton.  The rest of the outfit is the same as for the other “bunad” 

“Helgjikledu” – A suit worn for best

This suit is fairly new, made by Ødegård A.S. in 1991.  Since 1985 this firm produces “bunad” and suits as a specialty.  From talking to customers they realized that there was a need for a lighter and more user-friendly suit than the black “bunad”.  This suit can be compared to the female “stakk” and it is important to stress that this is not a “bunad”.  They used old patterns and old clothes and sought advice from Ragna Vetteren, Anna Myro and Paul Breiehagen during the development of “helgjikledu”.  The initial result was a waistcoat, shirt and long or knee length trousers.  They are in the process of developing a jacket similar to “fiskekjølkji”.   The idea is that it should not be linked to a place or a valley as a “bunad” and can therefore be worn throughout “Østlandet”  the eastern part of Norway.   It is not quite right to call it “helgjikledu” which means “only for best” because it can be worn at any time.   The waistcoat is made from “loden” which is a lighter cloth than “klede” or “vadmel”.  Two different styles, one with a U-shaded front with a row of buttons in the middle, the second with a collar folded up and lapels folded and buttoned down.  Both styles have half a belt and a buckle at the back.  The shirt is tartan, red/green/white pattern and color.  The same style of shirt was worn by Ambjørg Stølen, she was nearly 104 years old when she died.  The collar of the shirt is folded up and it is buttoned all the way down.  It is made from woven cotton, called “verkenstoff”, very strong and hardwearing.  Underneath the shirt another shirt can be worn, this has a collar folded up but with no embroidery. 

The knee length trousers are made from “loden” and made as a “lemmebrok”, as explained earlier.  It has a loose fit and braces to keep it up.  A “sluskehatt”, which is a hat with a larger more floppy rim than a normal “bunad” hat is worn.  Watch, watch chain and knife can be used.  This will be explained later. 

The bridegroom’s bunad


The bridegroom’s “bunad” dates back to the early 1800.  Bergen Museum has one exhibited from 1830.  It had black knee length trousers, the waistcoat is red, the jacket long and gray and underneath this jacket is a shorter blue jacket.  This might mean that different models were worn, even green and red and various other models and colors. Johannes Flintoe, the painter, painted men from Valdres and Hallingdal and they were both wearing these clothes around 1820.  This shows that fashion, even then, was influenced and copied by others.

Hermund Teigen was a tailor from Ål dating back to 1860-1870, he embroidered a rose pattern in red, green or blue on the knee of the knee length trousers.  The jacket had less embroidery. It had stitches along the edges of the jacket and a velvet band.  This is the style most like the one we use today.  Hulda Garborg wrote in 1917 that the embroidered version had not been seen for a long time, but it was back in use by 1917.  It was used especially for celebrations, mostly in Hallingdal but also in some places in Valdres. 

The bridegroom’s “bunad” worn today has a jacket made from white “vadmel” or thinner cloth.  It has no buttons, but trimmed with green woolen cloth along the opening. The front of the sleeves are made in black velvet, trimmed with red and folded back.  The collar is folded up and it has special stitching on the shoulders.  The back has three triangles fitted, which makes the jacket float in a special way.  The front, collar and shoulders are richly embroidered, stitched with woolen tread.  The waistcoat is made from red woolen cloth and trimmed with black velvet.  The collar is folded up and the lapels are folded down.  Three rows of silver buttons at the front and also silver buttons on the flaps of the pockets.  The knee length trousers are black and made from “vadmel” or thinner cloth, richly rose embroidered with woolen tread.  There is a split at the knee, which is trimmed in red.  It has a row of silver buttons and a silver buckle.  The shirt is made from linen or cotton.  Linen is the oldest and most traditional cloth but cotton is the most comfortable.  The collar is usually embroidered with white cotton.  These shirt styles are probably a few years younger than the “bunad” itself.  A very special hat is worn, “kollelue” sown together from 6 or 8 parts to form a bowl, made from red woolen cloth, trimmed with black velvet around the edge and also black velvet inlayed in the seams.  
The rest of the outfit: ornamental cuffs “fyriarmar”, silk scarf, necktie, bands to keep the socks up, socks, braces, watches, knifes and various other silver wear will be mentioned later.  It is very much like the accessories worn with the black “bunad”.


Bunad accessories and how it is used.


“Bunad” accessories is a huge and diverse subject.  Traditions can be many and the way it is used has been discussed but not always agreed upon.  This means that we don’t know for sure all the answers.

The shirt worn with the black short jacket ”bunad” has white embroidery on the upturned collar.  Some say there should be the same style of embroidery on the cuffs, but as this is the way it is made on the female shirt it should not be the same on the mans shirt.  If they used anything at all it would have been an ornamental cuff called a “fyriarm”.  This will be explained later.   
There has always been many different style of embroidery on the collar. In the olden days the shirt was not made as a full shirt, it was just the collar and a bit at the front and a bit at the back.  This was called a “kaste” or a “halseskjorte” which means “neck shirt”.  Now they make it as a full shirt and it is made from linen or cotton.
Around the neck they wore a silk necktie or a silk bow.  These were brought to this country by travelers and businessmen.  They usually came from Austria and were very much admired.  The housewives, in those days, only had linen, “vadmel” and thick heavy cotton, so these materials were exciting and used for absolute best.   The necktie was a square piece of silk and it should be tied in a bow.  These days you can buy them ready made.  There were many patterns to choose from and they wore the style they liked best and could afford.   Gro Randen from Ål is widely known for her beautiful neckties and the silk is now woven in this country.  
“Fyriarm” or “handring” (ornamental cuffs) were worn in the 1930-40’s. Then they were not seen  until 1980 when they started to be worn again and they are widely used today.  “Fyriarm” are buttoned on to the cuffs and shows in front of the jacket sleeve.  They were either knitted or embroidered; some also used beads, in beautiful patterns and colors.  A very colorful rose with eight petals was a widely used pattern and it could be made to match the silk necktie.  Initials of the father’s name were often stitched into the middle of the pattern.  Most probably these patterns were different from place to place.  This does not seem so important anymore.   

They used to wear the socks they had at hand, now we wear black socks for the long trousers and knitted, patterned socks or off white socks for the knee length trousers.  The knitted sock has the eight blade rose pattern in black and white. The socks for the bridegroom were white knitted socks with a platted pattern. 

Bands were used to keep the sock up.  The socks stay up better these days because of the way they are made and the bands are mostly for show.

The bands for the socks were finger crouched in many eye catching patterns and colors, and made to match the necktie.  Both worn with the black short jacket “bunad” and the bridegroom “bunad”.  The braces were embroidered using colorful cotton and beads.  These days the waistcoat covers the braces and it doesn’t matter what they look like.  You must wear the waistcoat, without it you are not properly dressed in “bunad”.   
They used the shoes they had, but often decorated with a buckle.  These days you can buy special “bunad” shoes, which must be worn with the bridegroom “bunad” or knee length trousers.  For the black long trousers you can wear any black shoes.
Silver buttons have always been in use, but during the 1800 they used bone and brass and pressed 
silver 10 øre coins. Lately 925S has become a substitute for 800S and 830S, this means less polishing and it stays shiny longer.  The buttons have many different patterns, but the most common is the rose with 8 petals.  In every valley there used to be one or more silversmiths, each producing lots of different patterns.  These days we use six or seven different patterns.  The buttons can be shiny or oxidated and in 2 different sizes.  The same buttons are used for the bridegroom “bunad” and for the black “bunad”.  

It is difficult to tell which is a typical Halling knife or ”bunad” knife. They used what they had.  These days we have two highly acclaimed knives; it’s the Raaen knife and the Einarsen knife. The Raaen knife was produced in Hol, all silver both knife and shaft, similar to the “taterkniv” knife the gypsies used.  It was richly decorated and is today one of the most valuable knifes there is and very difficult to get hold of.  The Einarsen knife was made of silver birch or bone, richly inlaid with mother of pearl and silver.  The pattern is similar to the Toten knife.

The last well known knife makers were Mikkel Einarsen, Einar Hagen and Lars Raaen  
Mikkel and Einar  (father and son) made the Einarsen knife and Lars Raaen made the Raaen knife.  They were both made early 1900.  In the old days there were knife makers on almost every farm.  They made knifes for themselves and for the rest of the family, both for everyday use and for celebration. That is why it is difficult to find a common pattern before 1900.  The rumor says that the “Halling” was quick to draw the knife.  The knife was worn on the left hand side for right handed people and right hand side for left handed people.

A silver watch was worn for practical reasons, to tell the time.  These days it is mostly worn as an ornament or collectors item.  To wind the watch there was a small key and the watch was wound from the back.  At the turn of the century they changed the style and started to make watches with a small screw on the top. This could be used for both winding up and setting the time.  In the old days the watch was made with a lid on the front, and a lid on the back.  This was for protection and hard wear.  They have now started making silver watches like that again.  The old watches are now a collector’s item and fetch a very high price.  Some old silver watches fetch a higher price than new gold watches.   The silver watch was placed in a small pocket on the waistcoat, to the left for right handed people and to the right for left handed people.

Silver watch chains came in many different styles, as it does today.   The difference was the length and the thickness.  The two most common chains are “Totteband” and “Kjetting”. Totteband had from two up to five chains in a line and then a brass button, the chains between the buttons were given the name “Totte”, and the more “Totte” the more prestigious the man.  That is why you don’t find many 5 chains “Totteband”.  There is also a watch chain called “trosse”  this was fairly long and went around the neck and then down to the pocket.  This was mostly worn with the “fiskekjølkje”.  More silver items were worn in the olden days then now.  As an example they wore silver rings and sometimes on the bridegroom “bunad”, one or two silver broaches at the neck.  This was before the silk necktie.

For the black ”bunad” they wore a silver or brass button at the neck, below the necktie.  There was never a dangling leaf or anything else on the button, just a plain button.  Lately some has stared to wear buttons with leafs.  This style was never used in Hallingdal, but in Gudbrandsdalen and Numedal.  Cufflinks should never be worn, just “fyriarm”.  Cufflinks were worn with a suit but never with a “bunad”.

Bunad for boys.

It is difficult to find material on how boys should be dressed.  Last century photographs shows that they are dressed very similar to the grown ups, only not quite so formal.  Their clothes are usually made from left over cloth or re-made from old grown up clothes.   These were handed down from brother to brother and from one generation to the next.  Only the rich people could afford to make clothes for children from new cloth.  When it was made from new cloth, it was very similar to how the father was dressed.  Today there are three different suits to chose from, same style as the grown ups.  These are the bridegroom “bunad”, the black “bunad” with a short jacket and “helgjikledu”.  The bridegroom “bunad” is most often used and has been in use for the longest.   It’s not quite as ornate as the grown up’s and can be used from the age 3-4 up to about 11-12.  These are also handed down from generation to generation.

Black “bunad” with a short jacket was not in use up until 1900 when it started to come back in fashion.  It is not quite as formal as the grown up’s but with the same accessories.  For buttons they sometimes used pewter instead of silver, to make it less expensive.  This “bunad” can be worn from 4 years upward.  This style is also often used for a religious celebration called “confirmation”.

The latest style from 1991 “Helgjikledu” is getting very popular.  It is hardwearing and easy to use.  It can be used for birthdays and for all occasions where you want to dress up a bit special.  It comes with long or knee length trousers.  This is a more inexpensive style, but it has to be remembered that this is not a “bunad”, but a “stakk” for boys and men.



Suits for men has always been practical, for keeping out the cold and hard wearing.   The style has been influenced by the fashion from Europe, and also by the fact that the men traveled to other valleys to do business and they were also in the army.  The accessory also changed with the fashion and what people could afford.    Luckily, records have been kept and old clothes are exhibited at museums across the country.  

The style of clothing was mostly what people had at hand and what they could afford.  There were not such strict guidelines on what to wear as there is today.

We are now very concerned about: what to wear, what can be worn with what and who can were what.  Is this right?  There are a few guidelines that must be followed, but we have to accept and let the “bunad” develop.  We don’t drive to church with a horse and sledge anymore either.

There are many discussions on who is allowed to wear the ”Halling bunad”.  If your family comes from Hallingdal you are entitled. But a couple of examples: Someone with great grandparents from Hallingdal, but has never been in Hallingdal or knows the valley at all, is he entitled? Or someone with a cabin, who’s been in the family for generations, has spent a lot of time in Hallingdal and his heart and soul is in the valley, is he entitled?  I feel they should both be entitled to wear the “bunad”.  But someone driving through, noticing the “bunad”, and thinks: “this is a nice and practical suit”, should not be entitled.  He should think twice about it and rather chose another form of status symbol. 

“Bunad” is very fashionable at the moment, and the most popular is the black with the short jacket.  Why has it become so fashionable in the last 25 years?  We have discussed this and we think that all the questions about joining E.F., E.U. and 2 elections could have something to do with it.  People has been looking for their roots and found it in the old style of clothing.  From 1970 and back in time very few wore “bunad”.  This shows that fashion goes up and down, at the moment we are on the way up. What will happen in the future, we don’t know.  The discussion will carry on, what’s wrong what’s right, who can and who cannot wear “bunad”.  The same questions will be asked in 50 years time.  An example is: should a knife be worn with the female “stakk”? What does the original Halling knife look like, on which side should it be worn?  These are all good discussions to keep the old clothing tradition alive.  

The good thing is that the young people take a healthy interest and we believe that this is important for a bright future for the “bunad.  What would a 17th May parade look like without the stylish male in “bunad”?