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Every Swedish home has a Dala horse on the shelf.

The wooden Dala horse (also known as a Dalecarlian horse) is an example of Swedish folk art, but what is the meaning and history behind these painted carved toy horses from Sweden?
Over the years the handcarved and painted Dala Horse has become a symbol of authentic Swedish handicraft and one of Sweden's most popular souvenirs.
Create a stunning interior with our beautiful hand-crafted Dala wooden horses, a best seller in Sweden, we are now bringing these stylish objects to the UK.
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Much-loved gee-gees from Nusnäs. Every Swedish home has a Dala horse on the shelf. Not a prize specimen, but perhaps a little knocked about, and probably painted red.
Swedish Dala Horse Meaning & History

Red Wooden Horse Traditional Swedish Folk Art

Create a stunning interior with our beautiful hand-crafted Dala wooden horses, a best seller in Sweden, we are now bringing these stylish objects to the UK.

In the old days the Dalecarlian horse was mostly used as a toy for children; in modern times it has become a symbol of Dalarna, as well as of Sweden in general. Several different types of Dalecarlian horses are made, with distinguishing features common to the locality of the site where they are produced.

One particular style has, however, become much more common and widespread than others. It is stoutly carved and painted bright red with details and a harness in white, green, yellow and blue. It was in the small log cabins deep in the forests during the long winter nights in front of a log fire that the forerunner of the Dala horse was born.

Using simple tools, generally only a knife, woodcarvers made toys for their children. It was only natural that many of these toys were horses, because the horse was invaluable in those days, as a trusty friend and worker who could pull great loads of timber from the forests during the winter months, and in the summer could be of just as much use on the farm. The art of carving and painting the small horses quickly flourished in the 19th century, as economic hardship in the region inspired greater production of the small horses, and they became an important item of barter.

Horse-making may have started as something to do during the long dark winter months, but soon the Dala horses were traded in exchange for household goods and their carving and painting blossomed into a full-fledged cottage industry.

The rural families depended on horse production to help keep food on the table, as the skills of horse carving and painting were passed on from generation to generation. The villages were involved in the art of furniture and clock-making, and it is likely the leftover scraps of wood were put to use in the production of Dala horses. The decoration of the Dala horse has its roots in furniture painting and was perfected over the years.

According to a local tale, a wandering painter in the style of kurbits came across one of these Dala horses in a farm he was decorating. When asked by one of the children why that horse was not as beautifully painted as the ones in the decorations, he painted the Dala horse in the same style.

This tradition was then carried on in order to raise the market value of the Dala horses. The earliest references to wooden horses for sale are from —nearly years ago. In the book "The Wooden Horses of Sweden," the author mentions that this famous Dala painter is buried in a small churchyard in Nebraska after having immigrated to the Midwest in at the age of While there were many horse whittlers in the early production of Dala horses, there were comparatively few horse painters.

The large number of whittlers and a lack of distinguishing features makes it difficult to distinguish between different whittlers. Early painters very rarely signed their work, but they did have their own distinct pattern from which it is often possible to identify who painted a particular horse.

This marks the beginning of a new era for the Dala horse, transitioning from toy to a national symbol and popular souvenir. The Dalecarlian horse of today is still a handcrafted article, made of pine, and its pattern is about years old. At least nine different people contribute their skills to create each horse. The distinctive shape of the horse is due to the usage of flat-plane style carving.

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Your one-stop shop for all things Dala Horse. The name comes from its home province, Dalarna, in central Sweden. Most popular are the red-orange horses from the little village of Nusnäs near Mora. Since Viking Times, the horse has been considered a holy animal. In many cultures throughout history, wooden horses have been carved as children's toys.

In central Sweden, wood scraps from the local furniture-making trade, paint-pigment from nearby copper mines, and long winter evenings bred the development of the Dala Horse.

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A Dalecarlian horse or Dala horse (/ ˌ d ɑː l ə ˈ k ɑːr l i ə n /; Swedish: Dalahäst) is a traditional carved, painted wooden statue of a horse originating in the Swedish province of Dalarna (Dalecarlia). In the old days the Dalecarlian horse was mostly used as a toy for children; in modern times it has become a symbol of Dalarna, as well as of Sweden in general. You searched for: swedish dala horse! Etsy is the home to thousands of handmade, vintage, and one-of-a-kind products and gifts related to your search. No matter what you’re looking for or where you are in the world, our global marketplace of sellers can help you . DALA Red Swedish Horse Votive Candle Holder Scandinavian NEW. Brand New. $ Buy It Now +$ shipping. SPONSORED. Antique Swedish Dala Horse. Folk Art Carved Sweden Hand Painted" SWEDISH DALA HORSE - KURBITS FLOWER COTTON FABRIC - NEW - 60" WIDE - BTY. Brand New · % Cotton. $ Buy It Now +$ shipping. 3 Watching.