Traceable and possible 16th and 17thC origins of different parts of the folkcostumes in Hardanger.
A collection of Hardanger bunads about 1920-30 * The Ullensaker vinter bunad * A wedding in Granvin 1966
To understand why there are such short distances and yet there could be such distinct differences and variations in dress , it's necessary to look at the topography of the different districts of Norway. The maps give a wrong idea of the landscape. Follow these links for a map, some photos (1, 2, 3 ) and a topographic illustration of Hardanger.
The name has its origin in old norse "skyta" and its original meaning is thought to be cut-off or short garment. It used to be the
innermost garment for both men and women. Usually of hemp or wool.
Linen was an expensive material. When prices fell in the 16th C, people could afford linen shirts. There were also many farmers who
grew flax and made linen fabric.
When lerret (cotton in linen weave) was made available, the number of shirts grew. Specially among the wealthy. Lerret was expensive. A 100 years or so later, it's more commonly in use.
In 1560, admiral Kristoffer Trondsen Rustung in Kvinneherad was given a shirt by kurfyrstinne Anna of Sachsen as a gift. Shirts has traditionally been used as gifts. As a sign of friendship.At this time they would still be costly gifts.
"The old piece of cloth, that has been passed from mother to daughter for nearly 200 years, is still in good condition, - it almost looks
as if its new. The only visble evidence of use, is on the lining of the collar. The collar is very artfully decorated with black silk, at the top is a small edge of real lace (knipling). On the shoulders , there has been used a very fine -either seam or embroidery(same word)- that differs a bit from what is being used today. This is the paternal grandmothers great grandmothers wedding shift the young girl is going to use in her upcoming [Lutheran]confirmation [usually when 13 in Norway, signifies you're an adult].

"Det gamle klædningstykke, der har gaaet i arv fra moder til datter i snart 200 aar, er endu vel vedligeholdt,- ja ser ud som nesten nytt, alene paa linningen rundt halsen vises nogle svage spor af at det har vært i brug. Kraven er meget kunstfærdig udsyet med sort silke,- øverst er en smal kant af egte knipling. Paa skuldrene er der ogsaa anvendt fin søm,- den er noget anderledes end den som bruges nutildags. Der er aaltsaa farmoderens oldemoders brudeserk den unge pige skal iføe sig ved sin forestaaende konfirmasjon."
Description from 1825.TH.Haukenes ; BD 7 "Ullensvang", s. 437

Upplut is
the bodice of the Hardanger bunad. The word has been in use since the 13th C (Egil-soga) and possibly earlier. It's been used about a garment worn by both men and women. It is thought to have been an armless surcotte. It's been described as both narrow and long. It's belived to be the origin of the "bul" for men that disapeared when the vest was introduced. At this late date it was short.

An extant upplut fra 1675, from Reiseter in Ullensvang is belived to have belonged to Anne Løgit (daughter of the priest) who married
Øvre-Børve in 1675. Her daughter Ingebjørg was married in 1723 to Reiseter. The bodice has been passed on through 7 generations. It's made of a good quality, shiny material (possibly wool) called kallemank(calemanc) with stripes in different colors. This type of material was not common among farmers at the time, her possession of this type of fabric might be explained by her father being a priest . It is edged around the neck and down the front with redish yellow bands (krokeband - possibly lace ?). It is lined around the armpit with shiny green cottonbands/ribbons with a yellow stripe in the selvage.
2 other bodices are thought to be from the same period.
These old bodices was cut straight down the front without any shaping in front of the breasts. It seems to be the norm in the Hardanger villages from the beginning. The bodices has a square neck and straight sides.

From a probate at Vangdal,Kvam in 1695  red, blue and black bodices are mentioned. The blue and black are thought to be everyday bodices since these weren't normally used for "best".

See red bodices and black jacket in photoes above.

It was very important to keep them symetrical. The edges were always adjusted to fit each other, especially when using fabric or
ribbons with patterns. A stiff piece of material would be inserted between the lining and the cloth. Or a stiff piece of cloth would be
added on top of the lining. It was important that the points were stiff.
The points were often cancelled on everyday clothes. But there is no mention of what the alternative was in the book.
The cathecism book was often used when cutting the neck opening. The sneda should reach the collarbone. There were variations, but the sneda (the points) should never be close to the top of the bringeklut (embroidered chestcover/frontpiece).
From 1660 and into the 18th C, it was possible to buy spanish, flemish and scottish cloth in Bergen. And from 1684 to 1724, both
rougher and finer types of material was woven in the manufacture house in Bergen according to Gunvor Trætteberg (Kvinne og mannsdrakt fra Sotra)
The bodices would be covered around the edges with different types of ribbons or strips of fabric.
The word stakkr is oldnorse in origin . The garment was cut as a kirtle. Preferably quite loose and short. It would reach a little past the hips, but could be
worn longer than that. The fabric would be of a little valued type. It was used as a work outfit and would be given names according to the type of work involved. "Vasstakkr forsidr med skinnumâ", "torfstakkr", "flokastakkr" or the material used "skinnstakkr"(leather skirt).
The name has stuck, but the linguistic transition from kirtle to skirt is a bit of a mystery to the author of the book.
Possible pleated shifts are known of from the viking era. Pleated viking or medieval fragments were found at Birka, Vagnes,Trondheim, Uvdal, Setesdal, Bergen among a few.
[ For more information on different types of viking age and medieval pleating and extant fabrics, see ; Solplisse, En Reminisens Av Middelalderens Draktutvikling: En Komparativ Studie I Plisserte Stoffer Fra Birka, Vangsnes, Middelalderens Trondheim, Uvdal Og Setesdal, by Anne karin Gjøl, ISBN-10: 8271811037 or ISBN-13: 9788271811037 ]
[For a list of all or most pleated extant norwegian fabrics see  ; Klær og formspråk i norsk middelalder, by Marianne Vedeler ,ISBN:9788274772977 ]
In Hardanger the stakk has always been black or blue. Black was the least valued as they would "blacken" (svorta) them at home . Brissel-let would be used. An imported substance from the brasil tree [being imported from Asia in the middle ages ]. In earlier times, a certain type of earth would be used (iron rich march/bog earth ) called svorte. The color blue came from something called potty-blue (fermented urine and indigo). It was not the easiest substance to achive an even color with.
Vadmels skirts would be the most common for everyday use. The most sought after/highly thought of would be the blue skirt. One would have to be very careful with these as they would have to last. A woman in Opdedal was said to own a skirt that had been passed on for 200 years in the family (traditionally always from mother to daughter unless there were only sons).The skirt would have been from the 17th C.

In the Hardanger villages they have used "felte","fodla" and "rukkastakkar". Felte (pleated)being the oldest. For this "venda-vadmel" [kypert- some kind of twill weave] would be used as it retained the pleats the best.
The pleating was done with a flat board and a flat stone. The fabric would be put on the board and 2 long , thin pieces of round wood would be inserted. They would be put under and over the fabric, interchangeably like when pleating headlinen. The fabric would be moistend piece by piece ( with boiling water according to some) and squized thightly together. Threads would be sewn through the pleats as the fabric was being pleated, bit by bit [the color was either added then ,or there is a typo]. It would then be put under pressure using rocks and left to dry in the sun. When the skirt fabric was dry, it would be permanently pleated. The thread would be removed and the skirt sewn up using backstitch. The skirt usually consisted of 4 lenghts of wool sewn into one large piece before the pleating process. The front piece was not pleated and was left flat under the apron to avoid a bulging stomach.
This technique differs from another region in the inland further south where panels were pleated first, the sewn up to a skirt. The pleating differs too. For an alternate pleating methode see Fedding and Felleskaut for linen pleated in a similar manner as mentioned above.
The oldest skirts were either open at the front and closed with hooks all the way down or only with a hook at the waist, leaving a long
opening bellow. The aprons main function was to hide the opening . The opening down the skirt was not considered "nice". This being the origin of the expression ; "Å vers forkle" - to be an apron ( to be a chaperone). An unmarried girl who had a child would have "lost her apron".
It was a highly fashionable garment among the wealthy over quite a long stretch of time , giving it a high status. The apron stayed on as a part of the folkcostumes even after the switch to side closing and aprons reverting to being a work related piece of garment again. Personally I suspect that the apron had a practical function in everyday life and was kept on for that reason too and not just because these communites only updated the garments that had been high status outfits before the mid 17thC.
A probate from 1695 mentions 12 aprons. If you were one of the wealthier/better off/"grander" girls, you would not wear the same apron to two consecutive services in church. Colors and materials for aprons are mentioned in a book about the Gudbrandsdals valley (inland region).
The bride would always wear a white apron.
BRINGEKLUT - CHESTCLOTH /FRONTPIECE (for lack of a better word)
  It's the little embroidered piece of cloth covering the lower part of the bodice opening.
 Early bringekluts could be as small as 10-12cm by 10-12cm.The origin is the 16th C fashions. It would have little practical function with a high cut neck  on the bodice and is thought to have been a fashionable/decorative addition. It would normally be used for special occasions. A round pin of some sort    would be used for everyday use to close the front opening of the shirt. or a plain piece of cloth.
This example is most likely from the 19thC.
* They would be embroidered.
* The bride would have a multitude of crosses either made of couched silver or gold or embroidery on the bringeklut.
* The oldest known of this kind is from 1670.
* For mourning there would be no embroidery.
Normally a red fabric would be used when embroidery was done directly on the material as opposed to sewn on after.
The lining would often be a miss mash of leftover fabric. The decorated piece would be attached to a lining that would be a bit larger. The decorate front piece would be sewn onto the lining using a technique seen in Herjolfsnes, Greenland in the middle ages and known in Norway from at least 1450. A thick thread would cover the edge of the cloth and a thinner thread in a different color would be used to couch this down. Yellow on green might be used. The book "Woven into the Earth" Textile Finds in Norse Greenland by Else Østergård contains some excellent photoes and drawings of the technique.
Stitches used ;
* Korsting - cloisterstitch of the type used in Hardanger embroidery (cloisterstitch differs a bit from country to country. Same name,
different stitch)
[mars 2008; I need to recheck which stitch it's referred to in the book. Either it's a cross stitch(korssting) or a satin stitch block also known as kloster blokk - cloisterstitch. I suspect it's cross stitch]
* Smøyg, smyg, smaug,vevsøm ; weaveseam,darning seam
* Påleggsaum ; application
* Grunnsaum ; trellis stitch ? It is a type of embroidery that covers the surface of the fabric without necessarily hiding the facric (grunn = ground, surface. Also ; basic
* Pearl embroidery after 1800

The bringeklut would always be stiffened. It was usual to embroider through fabric and paper.No indication of how early this was done
in the book, but a bit doubtful that paper was used in the 16th and 17thC.
Embroidery motives;
* After the 1700s the 8 leafed rose was very popular.
* A geometric design called the "
eldjarn rose" was very popular in Sørfjorden. The origin of pattern is very old. Known from cardwoven
viking fragments, early medieval scandinavian woven fabrics, 13th to 17thC germanic counted embroidery, samplers of the 16th and 17thC (and later) .
* Valknuta/valknutrosa is ancient . Not much used in cross stitch, the preferred stitch being smaug. The Osberg textiles are supposed to contain the 8
leaved rose and the valknuta in patterns.
* Crosses have "always" been used as a motive.
Keys, knives, needle holders has been known to be attached to the belt far back (mentioned in Trymskvida) and in use into the 18th
Fangaband would be wider for married women, covered with embroidery with a cross at each end. They hang at each side of the belt
ends. Examples in all three photos above.
Used for special occasions. Silver belts (with (fanglengje = a chain ?) would only be used by the richest and the upper crust of society.
The silver belts would be made of square bits of silver mounted on either leather, velvet ,red cloth and possibly fur. The belts were a sign of wealth and prosperity. The most sought after being the gilded ones. They were a rarity due to the cost.

1193 A belt is mentioned in as belonging to Ingebjørg, the sister of Knut (Canute) the 6th of Denmark.
1283 a sumptuary law prohibits everybody (except king Erik the 5th of Denmark and his children) from wearing gold or silver decorations on clothes
1600, Christian the 4th forbids the use of gilded silver belts. Only the nobility are allowed to wear these belts on the first wedding day
1625 a silver belt is mentioned in a probate from Ulvik, Øvre Lekve

Different corruptions of Angus Dei - lamb of god.
Angsters were made of leftover altar candles. The leftover candle were considered holy and an excellent ward/protection. A special container would be made to store the candle remains. The often coin shaped container would hang from a heavy chain. A lot of adornments were added.
16th Century ; it's fashionable with long chains for men and women. Often chains wrapped around the neck more than once. [ See german fashion of the 16thC].
1560 in Denmark; sumptuary law prohibiting a bride of the nobility/the wealthy from wearing more than 4 chains. Girls of the middle classes in the towns 
(borgerskapet = burgers) could only carry one chain.
Chains would be used by the wealthiest . Large amounts were discovered in the villages in the Hardanger region and were considered highly valued heirlooms. Quite possibly a way of investing a profit.
A lot of linens. Rough one could have as little as 10 pleats a piece. Finer ones could have as much as 300 pleats (newer and finer
fabric). I'll translate the pages one day.
See Felleskaut

1300s origins of use as a wedding crown
1530 Copenhagen, the wife of the burghmeister broke into Vor Frue church and smashed all the Maria pictures/statuettes. This was common in the catholic churches after the reformation. Crowns would often be hidden and later rented to brides.The priests wife might often buy the crown herself.
1570 a wedding in Bergen between the noble Brynhild Benkestokk and the noble Erik Hansen, The bride wore a crown and finery.

1624 a fine decreed for wearing a crown when not chaste

1664 the fall/autumn "Ting" in Granvin prosecuted a man for letting his wife wear her hair loose at the wedding despite having "slept" with her.

A sumptuary law from the 17th C in Bergen states that ; No servant might from this time be married with a crown on her head, but shall wear a pearl covered "lad"(will cover that later)(this is thought to be the possible origin of the pearl decorated crowns).
"ingen Tienestepiger herefter tilstedes at redes til Brud med krone paa sit Hoved, eller anden saadan Smykke, men aleneste at bære Perlelad"
Rikard Berge Norsk bondesylv ,s130
1665 a crown is mentioned in Bu, Kinsarvik, Hardanger.
A black jacket is worn.
[The 16thC style of jacket were in use into the 18thC in some regions of Norway. The only thing distinguishing them from the earlier 16thC versions were the modernized tailored backs of the jackets.]
Crown accessories ; a so called "underbinding" (a base for the crown?), a red cloth strip decorated with small pieces of silver lined/interlined(?) with a soft cushioning layer. At the back 5 wide strips of silk/silkbrocade (?) was attached. The silk strips would hang down the back over the loose hair. Known to be worn that way in the 16thC.
Modern version of crown and finery
Covering of hands prohibited in church during weddings and "altargang" ( possible translations/meanings; walking down the isle when getting married
, carrying a child to baptisme, receiving absolution, being blessed after childbirth).
At the handfastening (engagement) the priest would cover the right hands of the couple with a part of his stole (after blessing the rings). This would safeguard the marriage against evil powers. Despite being of roman and catholic origin, it survived into the 17thC. It was so deeply rooted, the tradition survived the reformation. .

Richly embroidered black or whitework cloths .

A wrist covering mitten is known from a probate in 1695 in Bergen. It's known to be a town fashion in the late 16th C according to Gunvor Trætteberg.
The muff arrived from Europe around 1500 and lasted out the 18th C. It was used to church (cold places). It would be made of a roll of fabric which might be quilted. It would be lined, usually with vadmel or fur. The outside fabric could be anything from vadmel, home woven to store bought. Town style muffs would be covered with ribbons.
1717 Oldest utskurdsforkle (cutwork apron - as in cut with a knife) from Øfjorden in Hardanger. It's origin (maker) is thought to have been Gunbjørg Midtbø¸ from Hovland born 1699, married in 1717. Her grandmother was married to the priest David Petræus form Granvin (worked as a priest between 1600-42). It's thought that she introduces the whitework that later became Hardanger embroidery to the region. The pattern layout resembles an italian reticella work from the 17thC.
The highly advanced italian reticella work is simplified and becomes a norwegian style of whitework usually called Hardanger embroidery. There are regional differences with different names to the styles.
[ Extant norwegian altar cloths from the 17thC with norwegian whitework]

 Embroidery motives and styles used ;
The 8 leafed rose (star) is rarely done in cross stitch (or satin stitch ?). The larger "star"  popular in cutwork (utskurd) is a newer fashion.
Crosses would be a dominating part of a pattern.
Tjukksaum (either ; padded satin stitch, encroaching satin stitch,satin stitch blocks ) was predominant earlier.
The oldest udskurdsaumene have no or rarly any holes in the pattern.
Lots of austmannarenning. Renning cuts across, rond is straight.
1695 mentioned in probate ; 3 black outer kirtles or jackets ? 1 white (3 sorte Overkofter og en Hvid Kofte)
Tall hats were worn into the 18thC as a festive hat. One is mentioned in connection with Ole from Jæstad , Ullensvang. Born 1621,
Ole is mentioned until 1667.
Costly ribbons or lekkjer(silverchains ?) were used when fashionable in Europa in the 16th-17thC. Christian 4th was known to own one worth 3000kr
Ribbons would only be worn by the groom at his wedding.
Kollehue(cap) has been mentioned since the 13thC. Been in use the whole time.

Pieced together of 6 pieces and resembles late 17th and early 18thC embroidered "night" caps in shape. No embroidery and no brim though. Usually they were made of red cloth and the seams would be covered with black ribbons.
[ I've seen later versions of these with an added brim at the front used up until fairly recently] 
1547 spanish gift to Henry 8th. He is said to have liked them so much he acquired 6 pairs.
Elisabeth 1st wore silk hose(stockings). Knitted hose well known in England by this time.
1562 Eirik 14th (king of Sweden 1560-1569) is the first known northern scandinavian to have owned "spøyta sokker" (knitted stockings)
Very expensive.
Knitting wool socks became a fast rising local industry in Norway. Mosty "rougher" socks.  A viable industry by the early 18thC. (Probably comparable to 19thC cottage industry knitting in Britain)
* Christian 4th passed sumptuary law prohibiting commoners from wearing knitted socks.
* Only noble women were allowed to wear knitted silk stockings.
* Burgers, their wifes and daughters were allowed knitted wool socks.
* Commoners and the craftsmen were only allowed vadmels hose (white, blue also red and rust-red (madder shades ?) known). There would be no feet on the vadmel hose. A band under the instep(?) would keep the hose from sliding up. [ Socks would most likely be nålebundne-nalbinding, or legwraps of wool fabric]
Krotasko = cutwork/stamped(?) shoes of a fairly thick leather.
Known from 1340 , king Magnus had 30 pairs.
Known to be used for festivities and "best" wear.
Clogs used. How early though ?
* Hardanger was wary of the color blue until it became a "celestial" color. Rarly used in weaving or embroidery. Blue had been assosiated
with death since ancient times. In old norse, blackworkseams were called "blåmerkt" ("dukr blåmerkt" = blackwork covered cloth.Blå = blue). Blue was made from urine and indigo = potte blått (potty blue)

* Little green used in tapestries, but often used in embroidery and weaving. Not always used though. Green was made from "jamne" and birch leaves

* Yellow was made from "apalbark" boiled in lye. "Jamne"root also gave yellow.

* Black from "orebark" and "svorta"(iron rich march/bog earth). Black was considered simple but necessary as a contrast to the colors. One theory for the predominant use of black in costal regions is that black covers dirt better than anything else. Another is that it's a financial question. Shearing, handspinning,weaving and dyeing is a timeconsuming effort. While you might not be able to afford buying fabric, the things you made had to be sturdy and last long because of the timeconsuming process.
[The pleated skirt of the Hardanger region has it's origin in mid16thC fashion where black was still a commonly used color. In some countries still the height of fashion. I suspect that this is the main reason black was still used].
* White is the oldest mourning color. White scarfs were used as a mourning garment.

* Red was the most sought after color. The festive color, a protection/ward agains "trollskap"(witchery by the trolls and the like) and evil forces, a strenghtening color.

1548 Countess Dorothes of Mansfield sent a red kirtle/ dress to princess Anna of Denmark as a wedding gift (?). This was due to the fact that on a trip to the Netherlands, she saw old women wearing scarlet kirtles. The scarlet color was supposed to strenghten limbs. She had one sewn for herself and 1 month later her aching foot no longer hurt.

Red was the "grandest" color for the uplut(bodice), the bridal stakk(skirt) was red, the ground fabric for pearl embroidery was a red cloth, the base cloth for the silverbelts were red. Red was made from korkjelav( medieval export article, found in London in fragments, se MoL books). Also made from the roots of "kvitmaure" and bought madder.

Excerts from and summary of ;
Hardangerbunaden før og no
Gudrun Stuland
ISBN 82-07-00448-7

Comments added wherever thought relevant.
Excerts from ;

Bondedrakter i Norge
Gunvor Trætteberg

Norsk bondesylv
Rikard Berge

TH.Haukenes ; BD 7
March 6th 2008 ;This is still a collection of rough translations and notes. The page is being updated bit by bit. The worst language errors should be fixed, map links are working again and some errors are corrected or comments added where relevant.