I have told you before, in the Valentine Sweetheart series 2 years ago, and also in connection with the genealogical research I did on the parts of my family which emigrated to the US, about brides in my family wearing traditional Norwegian Bridal Crowns:
Nils and Helge – Married 1898
This is my great grandparents on my fathers paternal side, Nils and Helge Bakke. For their wedding in 1898, when Helge was only 19 years old she wore one of the Nordfjord Crowns and Bridal attires still in use in my hometown of Hornindal today, the so called ‘Raftevoldpyntet’.
Their son Ola (my grandfather) and my grandmother Oddny were married in 1937, Oddny wore the same Bridal attire ‘Raftevoldpyntet’:
Oddny and Ola – Married 1937
My parents Gretha and Nils married in 1969, my mother was from the Trøndelag region of Norway, and chose to wear a regular white wedding gown:
Gretha and Nils – Married 1969
When I myself got married in 1997, ‘Raftevold pyntet’ was not available for hire, but I borrowed another Bridal attire from Nordfjord, the so called ‘Rye pyntet’:
Gunnvor – Married 1997
I had 3 friends and my mother help me get dressed and properly adorned for my big day as a Crowned Bride. This is the beginning of the morning, when the crown was tied to my head with many, many thin strands of hair, it was completely locked to my head! I seem to remember this process alone took almost 2 hour!
Got to love the 1997 casual outfits!!! 😛
I could bend over and lean back, jump, dance and tilt my head without the crown shifting. It was literally tied to my scalp 😀
Then my friend, the makeup artist, did her “magic”: totally au-naturelle make-up, of course:
My mother is ready to attach the red band at the base of the crown, to cover all the hair knots. This is the final piece, to complete the outfit. She is wearing a Trønder-bunad, this is the bunad I’m currently using, after I inherited it from her in 2007.
For a complete Nordfjord Bridal wear, there is also the special silk ribbon veil, the heavily adorned belt, and of course the bib, adorned with more silver jewelry, lace and several mirrors set in silver frames. According to local folk myths, the significance of the mirrors is said to be to keep tusse, troll and even the devil from stealing the bride on her wedding day. Should any of them try, they will burst when they see their own reflection in the mirrors! Just to be sure, there is even a tiny mirror in the back, used to secure the red band to the crown.
Removing even microscopic specs of dust and lint for a perfect finish 🙂
The special clothing worn by a Nordfjord bride is a red pleated long skirt of fine wool, with a black damask jaquard woven jacket and a snowy white linnen Bunad apron, usually with Hardanger embroidery. And of course traditional Bunad shoes to complete the Bridal outfit.
Everyone ready to leave my sisters tiny studio apartment, which we borrowed for the preparations. My front 2 friends in bunad from Sunnmøre, and my friend in the back in bunad from Nordmøre.
Here is another picture of the ‘Rye pyntet’ Bridal attire:
Rye pyntet – Crown Anno 1660(?)
The Rye crown is made in solid, gilded silver, and according to historical transcripts it has been in the Rye family since 1660, although the design and appearance of the crown suggests it is from the same period as several of the other Nordfjord crowns (early 1800). We insured the crown for 100.000 kroner (about 11.800 USD/11.100 euro) for one week back in 1997, had it been lost or stolen it would of course have been irreplaceable!
Bridal Crowns are rarely sold, and if they are, they are listed as high end offers by the esteemed auction houses. They often end up in museums, and will likely never be sold again. A crown from Bergen yielded 340.000,- kroner in 2010. Another crown from Bergen was sold for 360.000 kroner in 2014, while a third crown from Sunnmøre sold for 220.000,- kroner in 2015.
200 years ago, very few families were able to buy a Bridal Crown, they were expensive even then. According to custom, the richest families would give the Bridal Crown and attire as part of the dowry with their daughter. But unlike other dowry, in Nordfjord the ownership of the Bridal Crown and attire would remain with the bride herself. She would offer it for hire to other, less fortunate families, for a fair price, and thus have a steady income to help with the household expenses, all her life, since everyone needed a Bridal Crown for their weddings. Unless the family had no daughters, the Bridal Crown and attire would normally follow the maternal line. The wooden storage box for the complete attire, called “krunebomme” would typically be beautifully carved and decorated, by the groom of the first bride to own it, and many of these storage boxes are still being used today.
I know of 25 Bridal Crowns from Nordfjord that are still around today. Author Bendik Os wrote about 24 of them in his 2013 book “Brudekroner fra Nordfjord”, and the 25th crown is in Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo. Not all of them are complete attires anymore, with the other items to fully dress a traditional Norwegian Bride from the Nordfjord region. A complete attire should include also the bib, the belt, and the silk ribbon veil. The Nordfjord region has around 33.000 inhabitants, meaning the Bridal Crown ratio in Nordfjord is 1:1300.
17 of the Bridal Crowns from Nordfjord in 2005. Photo: Paul Sorenson
Hornindal is the smallest municipality of Nordfjord with 1.200 inhabitants, and is currently the home of 3 Bridal Crowns, making the current Bridal Crown Ratio 1:400 😀 Oskruna (depicted further below) also originates in Hornindal, meaning at one point there was actually 4 crowns in this very little town! A 5th crown from Hornindal, Svorkruna is mentioned, but I have not been able to find images of it. It is said to be in Kulturhistorisk Museum in Bergen, I will go look for it there, when I visit Bergen in May! It’s my “educated estimate” that these numbers place my hometown firmly in the middle of the Bridal Crown Tradition: I believe not many towns in Norway has a Bridal Crown density that compares to Hornindal…:-P
Here is a recent photo of the current 3 Bridal Crowns from Hornindal in Nordfjord. Raftevoldpyntet to the left is the one my Great Grandmother Helge and my Grandmother Oddny wore for their weddings:
All 3 Traditional Norwegian Bridal Attires from Hornindal, Nordfjord – Raftevoldpyntet (Anno 1805) , Frislidpyntet (Anno 1844) & Slettebøpyntet (Anno 1851). Photo from “Brudekroner fra Nordfjord” by Bendik Os. Copyright Svein Brimi
Here are two other bridal crowns from the Nordfjord region, you can see the similarities to the Rye Crown and the Raftevold crown:
Oskruna – Anno 1832
Crown from Nordfjord at Norsk Folkemuseum (Accession 1898)
I have plans for several more posts about Norwegian Bridal Crowns, Bunad traditions and other Norwegian traditions. I’ll be sharing these special posts on Sundays, so stay tuned for more Norwegian Sundays to come 😀 Coming up next Sunday is a Bridal Crowns Gallery.
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