Norwegian Folk Costume Bunad Could Make It To UNESCOs List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

There’s no doubt that UNESCO is most known for their World Heritage Sites, but they also offer different types of protection. The Norwegian fold costume bunad is currently in the running of making it to one of these UNESCO lists.

The Intangible Cultural Heritage List includes cultural items that are not tied to a specific site, but rather to a cultural group or the use of something within that group. Some examples are songs of cultural significance, cultural ceremonies, special diets, special types of cultural techniques to make something, or any other cultural things of significance.

The Norwegian folk costume bunad fits this criteria, seeing as the use of the bunad might be getting on the list, not the physical bunad itself.

Bunads. Photo by Sigmund / CC BY 2.0.

Also read: All UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Norway.

Bunads have a long tradition and history in Norway, and the use of them keep changing over time. It’s definitely a big part of the Norwegian culture, and there’s few sights like seeing the sea of people wearing bunads on May 17.

The proposal will be discussed by UNESCO, but they are believed to not give an official answer until late 2024.

If the bunad makes it to the list, it will gain some international protection. This legal protection will make it a cultural heritage symbol that must be protected by both the national and international society, and will urge the Norwegian government to prioritize education people about its cultural significance.

Bunads are in no imminent danger of any threat though, and they are in fact becoming increasingly popular with young adults.

Children in bunads
Children in bunads on May 17. Photo by Sean Hayford O’Leary / CC BY 2.0.

There are over 450 types of bunads in Norway

Each area in Norway tend to have their very own version of the bunad, and experts believe that there are roughly 450 different types of bunads.

Over 70 % of all women and 20 % of all Norwegian men own a bunad, which is used om our national day May 17, as well as for other celebrations.

The typical price of a bunad is around 20,000 to 50,000 NOK, which is around $2,000 to $5,000 USD. So, it’s a very expensive piece of cultural clothing.

Most people wear their bunad for their entire life, and it’s common to pass it along to newer generations.

Girls in bunad
Girls in bunad. Photo by Elin / CC BY 2.0.

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