From Hulda to hijab

About bunads, folk costumes, and what they mean to us

24. Jun 2022 - 27. Oct 2023

"A bunad (national costume) should not always stay the same; it can – and should – change like everything else, when it feels outdated. We cannot walk around looking like “something out of a museum”.
Hulda Garborg, For bygd og by, 1914

"Fra Hulda til hijab" («From Hulda to hijab») throws light on telling questions about the use of bunad today, in light of economy, sexual identity and ethnic origin. The exhibition, for example, deals with the historical development of what we today call bunads and the tradition of wearing bunad for Confirmation. It also shows the glittering variety of folk costumes which are used by the people of Rogaland from other parts of the world.

Hulda Garborg is considered by many today to be the Mother of the bunad. At a time when Norway was in the process of separating itself from the Union with Sweden, it was important to find back to what was originally Norwegian, something which made us different from Sweden and Denmark. As a part of this Norwegianisation movement, Hulda started work on making Norwegian bunads, and in 1903 published the booklet “Norsk klædebunad” (“Norwegian national costumes”). She was not the first to evince interest in folk costume traditions, but her work was ground-breaking for what bunads are today: costumes for celebration and festivities with greater or lesser connection to traditional folk costumes.

When a picture of Sahfana Ali wearing her new Frafjord bunad with embroidered hijab was shared in social media in 2016, it stirred up strong reactions. Ali received comments like “You are bloody well not Norwegian!” and the producer of the bunad, Marianne Lambersøy, of Embla bunads, received death threats. What was it that triggered such reactions?

Together Hulda Garborg and Sahfana Alis bunad hijab form the title of this exhibition.

In our digital fitting room you can "try on" different bunads and folk costumes.