A bunad is Norway
's traditional folk
costume. A different bunad exists for each part of the country, and represents that area's history. The bunad is one of the most prominent symbols of Norwegian
Each bunad is elaborately embroidered and is adorned with beadwork or silver. The most famous
silver decoration is a brooch, called "sølje". (See the letter ø if needed...) Most bunads are black with brightly colored embroidery, although green is also quite common.
Folk costumes of all sorts existed for centuries before the bunad. These were clothes used for special occasions. Towards the end of the 19th century, a strong sense of national unity prevailed, and the need for a common identity grew. Keeping old tradition and culture became important, and the bunad was developed, based on the old folk costumes.
The bunad started as a dance costume by youth dancing groups, but its use soon changed to holidays and important occasions such as Christmas, christenings, weddings and other important days.
A bunad can take up to two years to make, and many cost as much as $4000. The garment will, however, last a long time, and brings a special feeling to all festive events. Bunad popularity has increased greatly in recent years.
The bunad is most commonly seen on women, although sales to men aged 20 to 30 have soared over the last years.