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Þjóðbúningurinn: Wikis


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Icelandic men wearing 18th century style national costumes.
Icelandic women in the 18th century faldbúningur with tail-caps. The one to the right omits the jacket and is thus wearing a upphlutur.
The title of this article contains the following characters: Þ, ó, ð and ú. Where they are unavailable or not desired, the name may be represented as Thjodbuningurinn.

Þjóðbúningurinn is the collective native term for the Icelandic National costumes. The national costume has enjoyed various levels of popularity since the term was coined in Iceland in the 19th century, during the fight for independence. Since 2001 the national costume is regulated by Þjóðbúningaráð (The National Costume Authority), which preserves the correct techniques of making them and instructs people.


Women's costume

The five following types of costume are all recognized as Icelandic National costumes. However both the kyrtill and skautbúningur were designed in the 18th century from scratch as ceremonial costumes, while the faldbúningur, peysuföt and the upphlutur are traditional daily wear of Icelandic women in olden times.


Icelandic woman in the 18th century faldbúningur with the spaðafaldur cap.

The Faldbúningur is an older type of costume worn by women in since at least the 17th century and well into the 19th. In its most recongnized form it incorporated a hat decorated with a curved sheet-like ornament prodruding into the air and exists in two variants. One of which is the krókfaldur and the other is the spaðafaldur. Previously a large hat decorated with gold-wire bands was worn with it, which is the reason for the faldbúningur's large collar, which was designed to support the hat. Later, around the turn of the 18th century women started to wear the much simpler tail-cap with it.[1]


Icelandic woman wearing peysuföt teaches a boy to read.

The Peysuföt are black woolen clothes commonly worn by women in the 18-19th century. They usually consisted of a twill skirt and a jacket of fine knitted woolen yearn with a black tail cap. It is believed that this costume was invented when women, desiring simpler working clothes than the faldbúningur, started to use male articles of clothing. This includes both the tail-cap and the peysa which originally was a jacket with a single row of buttons, but evolved in this costume and eventually discarded with the buttons.[2]


The Upphlutur is a woman's costume, consisting of bodice that can be coloured in bright colours such as red or blue, but often black. Its headpiece is a tail cap. The costume is basically the undergarment of the faldbúningur which evolved into a costume of its own right.[3]


The Kyrtill is a costume for women, designed by the artist Sigurður Guðmundsson in the 19th century. It was designed to look like Viking-age costumes. It however incorporates a hat similar to the one on the skautbúningur. While Sigurður's vision of the Viking age costume remains popular, costumes designed to more closely resemble archaeological finds have gained some popularity as well.[4]


The Skautbúningur was also designed by Sigurður Guðmundsson. It was conceived as a modernized variation of the faldbúningur, which had fallen out of use by the middle of the 19th century. It incorporates a complicated hat inspired by the ones traditionally used with the faldbúningur.[5]

Men's costume

Búningur karla or the Mens costume exists in three radically different versions. The þjóðbúningur karla is the only direct descendant of traditional daily wear of Icelandic men, while the other two were designed from the start as ceremonial costume.

Þjóðbúningur karla

The one considered most traditional consists of woolen breeches or trousers, a usually double buttoned vest and a double buttoned jacket called treyja. Sometimes a peysa with a single row of buttons is used in lieu of the vest and treyja. On the head is a tail cap, though historically different hats were also used. This costume was usually black, navy blue or dark green, although the vest, which was usually brighter was sometimes red. It is identical to the clothing Icelandic men commonly wore from the 17th until the 19th century.[6]


In the middle of the 19th century, when many Icelandic men had taken to using continental clothing, Sigurður Guðmundsson, an Icelandic artist, designed a costume for men which closely resembles 10th century Nordic clothing. While it attained some popularity at the time, it eventually disappeared until at the end of the 20th century when Viking culture and traditions have enjoyed increased popularity.[6]


The third costume dates from 1994, and is usually not a considered traditional costume. In style it resembles Faroese traditional costume more closely than Icelandic.[6]

Children's costume

Búningur barna or the children's costume didn't differ in any way from the adults version, except in size, until the 20th century, when girls were given shorter skirts,[7] and boys were given knitted sweaters.


Although today, modern shoes are often used with the National Costumes, traditionally shoes made of either fish or sheep-skin, with woolen inlets, were worn with the costumes. These shoes are known as roðskór and sauðskinsskór respectively. [8] Some people also use 18th or 19th century type leather shoes with buckles similar to the footwear commonly used with the Faroese and Norwegian National Costumes.


In olden times these clothes, except the skautbúningur, kyrtill and hátíðarbúningur, were worn daily by people of all ages and classes. Today they are worn by many on ceremonial occasions such as the National day, Birthdays and Weddings.

Links and Sources

  1. ^ - Faldbúningur
  2. ^ - 19th and 20th century peysuföt
  3. ^ - 19th-and 20th-century upphlutur
  4. ^ - Kyrtill
  5. ^ - Skautbúningur
  6. ^ a b c Fríður Ólafsdóttir, Íslensk karlmannsföt 1740-1850. 1999. p. 59-64.
  7. ^ - Children's costumes
  8. ^ Orðabanki Skinnskór, sauðskinnsskór


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