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The Norwegian Folk Costume or Bunad

Dressed in Bunads

It is at church in Norway that the national costume is best seen. In the north the women wear short, dark gowns, with fringed handkerchiefs tied becomingly over the curly fair hair, black ones for the matrons and white ones for the maidens.

In the south, the old Norwegian dress is often worn. It consists of a short dark petticoat, with a stripe of bright colors, a full white blouse, and a red bodice heavily embroidered, while on Sundays, a quantity of sliver pins and chains are added.

The headdress varies according to the occasion and the wearer's social condition. The girls wear jaunty red caps, the married women a coif made of many folds of starched white linen, plaited over a wooden frame, and a bride wears a high metal crown, curiously chased and set with jewels.

Norwegian Costumes

Here, as all over the world now, French cooking prevails, and there is that general and deplorable ambition to let the old customs be laid aside, and all meet on the plans of the one common place and universal. The peasants give up their picturesque old dresses of gay homespun clothes and linens, because a plain bodice and skirt of some factory goods can be bough much cheaper and the carved wood and old silver table pieces are replaced by other machine made and electro plated stuffs.

Bunad

One has only to look at the colored plates in the book of Norwegian costumes to see what picturesqueness there used to be, when every church parish had its own particular dress. Modern Paris can offer no greater variety in the cut of vests and open bodices than these old costumes display, and it buttons and clasps, Norway is still supreme.

Among these costumes that were worn without change of fashion for centuries one often finds the originals of modern novelties. The old Hallingdal women wore the Mother Hubbard dress for generations, the same loose skirt gathered to a high yoke that was fashion's raging fancy in America only a few years since.

And in Thelemarheu and in parts of Sweden, the peasant woman's black woolen skirts have always been pressed and steamed into plaits, exactly after the manner of the accordion skirts that were introduced as novelties a few years since.

At Bergen more particularly, on can buy dolls habited in these various costumes, and if some charitable association wanted to get up a charming and a novel fete, a Norwegian fair could be easily managed, with pretty girls in the different costumes, with pennant dolls and aprons for sale, some Norwegian dishes on the supper room menu, and Norwegian folk songs given in chorus.

Portions from Evening Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, November 9, 1886, Page 3

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