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Heddal Open-air Museum

Sought-after bunads

Sought-after bunads
Foto: Ingelinn Kårvand/NIA

Many people are familiar with the East Telemark national costume. Anne Bamle from Heddal created it. At Heddal Open-air Museum you can get to know both Anne and the history of the bunad. You can also see several Bamle bunads on display in all their glory.

Bunad life

Anne Bamle (1884–1972) was born on the Bamle farm in Heddal. In 1909 she travelled to Oslo, where she got a job at a sewing studio. After that she took a job at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum) at Bygdøy. Here she found some old archived national costumes from eastern Telemark, and her interest in the Telemark bunad began.

The first bunad

The first Heddalsbunad was sewn by Anne Bamle in 1914. The pattern was inspired by the Norwegian traditions movement and Anne’s mentor Hulda Garborg, as well as the old folk costume with a red vest that was worn from the end of the 18th century to the middle of the 19th century. Eventually she developed her own bunads based on the old costumes.

From unwanted to a national pride

After 12 years in Oslo, Anne Bamle moved back to Heddal and Notodden. At this time, the bunad (Norwegian national costume) was not a sought-after item, and Anne struggled financially. Many criticised the colourful bunads. Eventually the conservative voices died down, and soon the “Heddalsbunad” was a coveted garment. This was especially true after World War II when national pride was to be restored. Anne Bamle was a modest lady, but her work speaks for itself. With the east Telemark national costume, the quiet lady from Heddal has left a significant and proud legacy.

A true innovator

It was Anne Bamle who began to use embroidery around the edge of the skirt. All her bunads were individually designed and coloured. She used a lot of plant-dyed yarn, which she dyed herself. Bamle devoted her whole life to sewing and the bunads she created, and has inspired many seamstresses and designers in their work. It is said that she created over 2,200 national costumes during her productive life, and each one was unique. Anne died on 8 September 1972, at 88 years of age.

The costumes at Heddal Open-air Museum have been donated to the Heddal and Notodden Museum Association.  During the summer season, a selection of national costumes by Anne Bamle will be displayed in the Rambergstugo.

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