Jørgen Sando is a goldsmith of Norwegian tradition. Since 1901, three generations of the Sando family have made specialty jewelery for Norwegian bunads. Their focus has been on knowledge, quality and service. They take pride in their product and know that their work is important to Norwegian tradition. The family has certainly been instrumental in preserving the design and symbols of Norwegian heritage.
The Bunad with molded wool, embroidered cuffs and silver stitching is still not complete without its silverwork. Handmade cuff-links, decorative brooches, belts and keys all add important stories to the bunad, completing the tradition. These stories tell the life of the person who wears them:
Dish Brooch (Skålsølje)
Small dishes hanging from the brooch was a common symbol for a girl’s virginity. Dish brooches were often used as engagement gifts. The more dishes the brooch had, the more the boy appreciated his girl. (And the more money he had).
Heart Brooch (Hjertesølje) Other names for a Heart brooch are “Maria brooch” or “Crown brooch”. These brooches symbolize Virgin Mary’s (or Mary Magdalena’s) pure love, which was crowned with luck. Because of this, the heart brooch is used as a love symbol on the Bunad.
Lady of the house key A key in the belt is not foreign for us. It was so that the lady of the house always carried keys in the belt, because she had the supervision of the farm. The food chambers were always locked, so just the lady of the house had a key. To be trusted with the key, by your mother or mother in law, was an honor. It meant that she was now lady of the house and had the responsibility for the food, the people, and clothes. It was a big moment for a young lady, to get so much power and responsibility over the farm.
The bunad is often handed down from generation to generation so it also tells a family’s history. Jørgen Sando took over the family business and works under the trade name K.E.Sando, after his grandfather. He has certainly felt the connection between generations and is honoured to be a part of his family’s tradition:
A picture of my parents in West-Telemark bunads, my wife and our children in West Agder bunads and myself in a Halling-bunad. The picture was taken at my parents golden anniversary last autumn.
I’ve been looking around amongst the old stuff in the workshop [and have found] some buttons that I’ve made myself, some that my father made, some that my grandfather and great grandfather made. All of these where made with basically the same tools. I’m so proud of the buttons in my bunad. 10 out of the 12 buttons in the jacket is from my great-great grandfather Erik Sando’s jacket that he wore when he married Guri!
[Below is] a picture of my father teaching my oldest daughter how to make silver-buttons. She sometimes asks granddad if she can come and work with him. I think this picture is cute, taken when she was 6-7 years.
Read more about the history of the Sando Goldsmith tradition.
I think it is special to have silverwork decorating your bunad but it is even more precious when it is crafted in the true tradition of your heritage – by a family of craftsmen with a historic Norwegian significance, but more importantly, from a family that has a passion for their craft.
I am very impressed with the Sando website. It is full of historical information about silvercrafts for bunads all over Norway. It gives you insight into the stories and traditions of designs and symbols as well as modern applications. They have a detailed description on brooches, cuff-links, bunad rings, neck buttons/pins, buckles, eyelet chains, belts, earrings and even umbrellas, complete with pictures. All of which can be ordered and bought online. The site also includes a ‘micro museum’ of bunad silverwork. The Sando website is one of the most complete references on silverwork for bunads in the world.
A big thank you to the Sando family for providing personal pictures and information.