You never get to see (or have time to) interesting things as much as when you have visitors. It makes you feel like a tourist in your own neighbourhood. My regular readers know my MIL is in Norway, and today we’ll take you to the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. You have been there with me a couple of times before (please check the links at the end), but you always find new adventures at this museum. The Open-Air Museum features 155 authentic buildings from different national regions, like the from the 13th century, and sets the scene for entertaining activities all year. For this post I had to make a selection, so it’ll be Folk Dance and Bunad (regional folk costumes).

Many consider Norwegian folk music, song and dance traditions to be the most characteristically Norwegian arts of all. Traditional music and associated dances have withstood changing musical trends down through the years and stand today as a highly popular and dynamic cultural activity. This is one picture I took the day we where there:

Update: TorAa reminded me of that they are from Setesdal
– not Hallingdal as I first said!
– click to enlarge!

In contrast to many other countries, this type of music and dance never went out of style in Norway, and there is an unbroken tradition spanning centuries in much of the country. As a tourist in Norway, you may be in search of the exotic and somewhat folkloric image of folk music and dance with origins springing directly from a wild and mystical nature – a window into the Norwegian national soul. I hope you get a hint from the picture above.

In the pictures you see them in special folk costumes called ‘Bunad’. Its use has reached far outside folk dancing and folk music. Just take a look at my last post (scroll down one post!) about our National Day and you see plenty of them.
It is not possible to state accurately the number of different types of bunad in Norway, there may be around 200. At the museum we saw these to charming ladies and were allowed to take a picture:

The various bunads have their own distinct origin. Some of them are based on local customs dating way back, other models are reconstructions made in this century, relying on local and historical material. These ladies’ comes from Telemark, my home county! The interest for bunads started with the folk dance movement at the beginning of the 19th.

My niece in bunad at her confirmation a few years ago.
Also from Telemark as you can see, but without the jacket.

In the late 1800’s, there was a national romantic movement in Norway, due to the liberation first from Denmark and then from Sweden. Norway was searching for its own national identity, and the people had a desire to take care of everything genuinely Norwegian. Traditional folk costumes were commonly worn in the Norwegian rural areas. The people living in towns wore clothes much like that in other European and American towns. Interest in folk costumes increased as the culture and traditions of rural Norway were looked upon with nostalgia.

My blog friend Britt-Arnhild from Norway made a great post about bunad with more details as she prepared for the 17th of May. Go check by clicking here!

We explored a lot more at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History of course, but I’ve decided to split it into two posts. So the next entry will be about a traditional soft Norwegian flatbread called Lefse and some rural houses – so stay tuned!

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  1. Pingback:Anticipating The 17th of May in Norway

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