Monday, August 15, 2011

Hardanger bunad, sølje and Setesdal mangletre

Each area in Norway has its own national costume called a bunad. We are fortunate to have two photographs of Petra Landaas Lee in the Hardanger costume one taken probably about 1893 shortly after she arrived in America and this one taken just before she was married in 1904. Petra was petite, only 4 foot 11 inches tall. In this picture it is possible to see the famous Hardanger cut lace pattern in the apron. The cutwork was all done by hand. No buttons or zippers were used in the wool and linen costume but the blouse and dress were pinned together with little brooches called sølje made especially for that purpose.

The long filigree sølje pin at her neck has become quite fragile and can no longer be worn but has been passed down and framed.

Not only were aprons decorated with the cutout designs but also tablecloths and napkins. They are lovely to look at but must have taken hours to wash and iron not to mention the amount of time and exacting work it took to make these items. [Note: Petra's great-granddaughter (my daughter) now does this type of embroidery and you can see some examples by going to her Sinister Craftiness blog.]

Ironing was most likely done using a flat iron that was heated on a wood-burning stove. In very early days ironing was accomplished with a mangletre or wooden board usually with a horse shaped handle. Friction made by running the board along the cloth generated heat and smoothed the fabric. Today hand carved mangletrer are often hung on walls as folk art.

Washing was done with a washboard and the clothes hung outside to dry. The wool jumper is trimmed with ribbon and adorned with crewel embroidery. Every stitch was done by hand. It is possible to have such a costume custom made today at a cost of about a thousand US dollars. The sølje pins start at about $40 and range up to $300 or $400 depending upon the size and design. Most of the pins are filigreed and have small hanging “spoons” or round disks.

Traditional folk art woodcarving is a common hobby for men in Norway.

A cousin, John Allan Hornnes, carved this mangletre several years ago and sent it as a gift to me. It is untreated wood, birch I think, and measures 30” long x 4” wide. My arm would get quite the workout if I used it as iron! Instead I enjoy looking at it hanging on the wall.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, i just spotted the photo of a "mangletre" and i thought that it looked just like the one my uncle used to carve.And was suprised to know that it was.I am grandson of Mikal Hornnes
    Son of Aud, John^s younger sister.I realy like your blog, and would like to come in contact with you, i am not sure if we are related or not, but i can see you know a lot of my relatives.I live just outside Kristiansand, but was borne and growing up in Vennesla, near Mikal and Olaug.
    If you would like to contact me my mail afdress is: