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Bunad traditions in Norway
In Norway it is common to wear bunad as a costume at various celebrations, such as the May 17 National Day celebration. Its use has reached far outside folk dancing and folk music. Even at official formal arrangements you will see people in bunads, especially women. It is not possible to state accurately the number of different types of bunads in Norway, there may be around 200.
The various bunads have their own distinct origin. Some of them are based on old local customs, other models are reconstructions made in the 20th century, relying on local and historical material. The interest for bunads started with the folk dance movement at the beginning of the 20th century and may be accredited to pioneers like Hulda Garborg (1862-1934) and Klara Semb (1884-1970). Their work has been followed up by enthusiasts all over the country and new bunad variations are frequently created.
In 1947 an official institution was organized to act in an advisory capacity on all questions dealing with bunads in Norway, the Landsnemda for Bunadsprsml.
In folk costume research one differentiates between bunad and folk costume. "Folk costume" being the local dress in previous times with all its variations and use. Bunads are used for festive occasions and today they date back to the folk costume tradition of the 19th century.
In some parts of the country folk costume tradition was alive well into the 19th century. Bunads with such long traditions are to be found in the Bergen area on the west coast, in Setesdal in the south, in some districts of Telemark, Numedal, Hallingdal, Gudbrandsdalen and at R ros in eastern Norway.
There is a continuing debate as to the "correctness" of the bunads, between those that want bunads to be made strictly according to traditional designs (sometimes referred to as the "bunad police") and those who advocate a less restrictive line, allowing for the creation of new bunads or the further evolution of traditional designs.