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Explained: What does bunad mean?

Norway’s traditional costume; comes in many forms

Explained: What does bunad mean?
Amb. Hans Jacob Frydenlund, wearing a bunad, presents his credentials to President Kovind last month. (Source: Rashtrapati Bhavan)

When Norwegian Ambassador Hans Jacob Frydenlund went to Rashtrapati Bhavan to present his credentials to President Ram Nath Kovind recently, he was wearing his country’s traditional folk costume.

Called a “bunad”, it is not a single kind of costume but an umbrella term with several regional variations.

A bunad often includes an apron, a headdress, and a scarf or shawl, and is embroidered and embellished with buckles, ornaments, jewellery and at times, blades. Bunads are expensive and typically worn on festive occasions.

The University of Oslo estimates that one in two Norwegians owns a bunad, which is about 2.5 million bunads.


There are 400 different variations that come in different styles for men and women.

In 2012, Norway’s Ministry of Culture appointed the Bunad and National Costume Council to promote the use of bunads and other national costumes.