The Folk Dress Exhibit shows traditional rural folk dress in pre-industrial Norway. Some types of clothing have been in traditional use from the 1400s up until the 20th century. In some areas, the folk dress was in use up until the 1960s and 70s.
Both ornate bridal costumes and simpler, patched everyday workwear are exhibited. The only bunads shown in the exhibition are a group of Rønnaug Pettersen’s bunad dolls.
The exhibit is ordered Thematically, with examples from inland and coastal areas, areas where city fashion was predominant, weddings, baptism, confirmation and funerals. In addition, there are examples of specialized textile techniques, and three tableaus showing the Halling dance, dressing the bride and a wedding feast.
Dress and clothing traditions
The distinction between folk dress and fashion can be dated from the 1600, but probably arose earlier. Fashion is international and worn everywhere, in cities, towns and in the countryside. Folk costumes are the result of the interplay of inherited customs, external influences and internal creativity. External influences were largely international fashion. Internal creativity manifests itself both in the way a new fashion is adapted into local use, and in that a costume can change without any apparent external influence. The result is a unique local costume. Folk costumes were gradually replaced by fashion, a process that began in the 1800s and, in many places in Norway, ended well into the 1900s. Fashionable clothes were mostly found in the towns as well as central inland and coastal areas. In farming and fishing communities across Norway, folk costumes were used as everyday clothes, on Sundays, and for holidays.
Folk Costumes - Customs and Use
The folk costume was a vital part of the community, adapted to the social conditions of its time. The rules and customs surrounding folk dress were unwritten yet universally known. Each person, from infants to the deceased, was dressed according to time-honored, established rules. Clothing was symbolic, especially a woman's head wear, which often revealed her marital status and even whether she was an unwed mother. An important element of folk costume is the distinction between church clothing and non-church clothing, each group having internal gradations. Church clothes were a person's best clothes and were only worn in church. For holidays such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, and for important events like weddings, confirmations and baptisms, people wore their finest church clothes. Certain items of clothing were used to mark rites of passage, either entire costumes, like a wedding dress, or accessories or items used in ceremonies.