The traditional Norwegian women’s bunad – folk dress – is incomplete without one small but very important accessory. It’s the bunad purse or waist pocket. This purse always matches the rest of the outfit – same embroidery, same silverwork, same color palette, etc. But except for this, there is so little info on bunad purses on the internet, so let’s try to find out some more about this mysterious folk pouch.
The bunad purse is a very beautiful and skillfully made pouch attached to the belt of a traditional Norwegian costume. There are thousands of different variations of this bag but, in general, they all look alike. The purse is usually as big as two palms put together. It has an oval or roundish shape. It is made from fabric, richly adorned with embroidery and sometimes beading, and it has a metal clasp (the upper part of the pouch, used to attach it to the belt, is metal). The authentic bunad purses have silver clasps because silver was a sacred and very popular metal among Norwegians and other Scandinavian people. There are many silver mines in this area, so this material was available.
A bunad purse is one of those heritage items passed from mother to daughter, from grandmother to granddaughter. Lots of families have at least one authentic bunad purse that belonged to their ancestors and is being transferred through generations.
Sometimes, only the metal part is saved, especially if it’s silver, and the fabric part if replaced from time to time because cloth is much more fragile.
You can find many examples of Norwegian bunad pieces on the internet (on Pinterest, for instance), including bunad purses of various designs. There are even silver bunad jewelry sets consisting of brooches, cufflinks, belt buckles, clasps of purses, and other items all made in the matching design. And the embroidery on the fabric (and the fabric itself) of a purse matches that of a bunad dress and other pieces of the costume.
The needlework patterns on a bunad purse depend on the region of origin and tastes of the wearer. Usually, bunad is decorated with floral embroidery, and a very pretty one. These embroidery designs, as was mentioned earlier, should match the patterns on the dress.
Norwegian brides and grooms still like to use the bunad as wedding clothing. No surprise there because these people value their national heritage greatly. And also, this attire is beautiful and elegant, especially the female costume. In the past, Norwegian brides traditionally wore bunads for their weddings and carried small bibles in their bunad purses, along with other little useful items. Some couples honor that tradition even today, but not as often as in the past.
The bunad purse is a magnificent and authentic Norwegian accessory. It’s remarkable how these people appreciate their old traditions, one of which is the folk attire.