Friday, April 5, 2013

Guest Post by Julie K. Rose, author of "Oleanna"

I am so excited to welcome Julie K. Rose, author of Oleanna, to the blog today!

I'm always fascinated by the little details that make a time and a place come alive, the traditions that express a sense of culture and history. One fantastic way to connect with history is through clothing, and in Norway, the most important expression of culture through dress is bunad.

Bunad are special occasion wear based on the folk clothes of centuries past. Norwegians like Oleanna at the turn of century, and Norwegians today, wear bunad for weddings, important events, holidays, and Constitution Day (May 17) to show pride in their country and respect for their history.

Below are two fabulous images of the bunad worn at Jølster in Sunnfjord (western fjord Norway), where Oleanna and her family lived. This is the kind of bunad Oleanna and Elisabeth would have worn, inspired most likely by the clothing they'd seen their grandmothers wear.

Image courtesy of <a href = ""></a>

"Jølster girls with a man in a small boat, ca 1900" via <a href = "">Beware of the Rug</a>

My great-grandmother's Hardanger bunad, probably sewn after she immigrated to the U.S. in 1907. Wearing bunad was a way for many immigrants to feel connected to their homeland.

Bunad is unique to each region, even down to counties and specific communities. They're differentiated by color, the style of apron and skirt, the type of embroidery, and the style of sølje jewelry worn. As with any kind of fashion, bunad can be straightforward or incredibly detailed—it's all based on the amount of time (and money!) you have. To purchase an entire outfit, you're looking at $3,000—and that's before accessories!

My husband took this shot in Oslo on Constitution Day in 2004; I love the juxtaposition of the historic folk dress and the mobile phones!

"Modern day postcard showing young girl in national costume on a Fjord horse with view of Jølster, Norway in the background" via <a href = "">Beware of the Rug</a>

It's important to note that in most cases, this is not extant clothing—it's reconstruction of an (idealized) folk past, taking bits and pieces to create a new whole that you can order from a shop to have handmade today.

You'll see in the "new" Sunnfjord bunad below (ca. 1914), the pointed hats and colorful aprons of the Jølster bunad are gone and the whole is simplified. This is the bunad you see most often today for the region; I must admit I've not seen any modern photos of women wearing the pointed Jølster bunad hats of yesteryear. It's fascinating to see how history is sewn and resewn anew with each generation of bunads!

If you'd like to learn more about bunad, check out these links:

Julie K. Rose is an author of unique historic and contemporary fiction. She is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society and former reviewer for the Historical Novels Review. She earned a B.A. in Humanities (SJSU) and an M.A. in English (University of Virginia), and lives in the Bay Area with my husband and our cat Pandora. She loves reading, following the San Francisco Giants, watching episodes of Doctor Who, and enjoying the amazing natural beauty of Northern California.

Oleanna, short-listed for finalists in the 2011 Faulkner-Wisdom literary competition, is her second novel.  The Pilgrim Glass, a finalist in the 2005 Faulkner-Wisdom and semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, was published in 2010.

Check out other stops on the tour here!
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