Here is a little bit of history about the Dala Horse. The Swedish Dala Horse, or Dalecarlian horse, is a traditional carved, painted wooden figurine of a horse originating in the Swedish province of Dalarna. Dalarna County is a county or län in middle Sweden. So, what was this ornamental figurine for? In the past, the Dala Horse was mostly used as a toy for Swedish children, however, today it has become a symbol of the Dalarna province as well as an iconic symbol of Sweden and Swedish gift idea!
History of the Dala Horse
The history of the Dala Horse traces back to the 17th century. While working in the vast Swedish forests, laborers would spend some of their time during the long dark Scandinavian winter evenings to carve little wooden horses for their children to play with upon returning home to the village. Some years later, these unique little Swedish wooden horses began to be sold at markets in Dalarna. This is how the little Swedish wooden horse from Dalarna became a treasured object in the heart of the locals.
What about the colors? The simple wooden horses were painted in bright colors inspired by the flower patterns painted on furniture and walls in the area such as the popular art of Rosemaling. Throughout this period, the Dala Horses became a cottage industry as an important source of income for poorer families, providing work for all. Even young children would contribute to the family business by learning to carve wooden horses and working with the family after returning from school.
It wasn’t until the 20th century that the Dala Horses entered the global scene. At the World’s Fair in New York 1939, Dala Horses were used to represent the country of Sweden. After this, the Dala Horse was seen as a symbol of Sweden and mass production of the horses took off. Since then, Dala Horse ornaments have been popular souvenirs and inspired other similar products as well emblazoned on dish towels, bags, kitchen magnets and more.