Was there an original purpose for the slit in the instep band (...besides pennies :-)? or is it just a decorative element? Beautiful Norwegian village.
Missed this - it seems to me that the original purpose for the slit actually was inserting a coin for decoration. The traditional Sunday wear (the "bunad") of the Norwegian peasantry would typically include sterling-buckled shoes after the Continental late 18th C pattern, so the coins might also be a down-market version of the silver buckles. The modern bunad - a folkloristic costume along the lines of kilts or lederhosen, still very often has the buckled shoes. Putting coins in the slits would traditionally signify that one was "spoken for" or "going steady" with someone. My grandmother actually told me this, when I was a kid, and wore them. Black Aurland shoes were very often used as "dress" shoes for children. And yeah, this is one of the innermost corners of the Hardanger fjord, it's supposed to be one of the nicest areas in Norway.