The Dala Horse, or Dalahäst, is a traditional toy from Sweden. They are carved from wood and beautifully decorated using the swedish painting technique called Kurbits painting. The oldest ones, some of which can be seen here, date back as early as 1624.
The Viking's religion, As, viewed the horse as sacred, which is probably why horses were carved. There is a whole lot of information on the Dala Horses and their history at the Grannas website. Grannas, the oldest existing manufacturer of Dala horses, was started back in 1922 by Grannas Anders Olsson. It is still family owned and the horses are hand-carved and hand painted. You can see pictures of all the production step here.
And what about those Dala Horses at the top of the page? Those live with us. The red one is Maddie's and is newer. The Blue one is Pete's, which I believe he got as a child (am I right, Pete?) The black one is very special -- it's rather old and was given to Maddie as a special gift from her Farfar (Father's father in Swedish) shortly before he died. And those little ones are Pete's -- I think they are also kind of old. Can you believe it -- I don't have one to call my own yet!
So, that's a little bit about the Dala Horse. Here are some more links on Dala Horses:
- The Dala Horse... From Folk Toy to Lindsborg Tradition
- A Dala Horse quilt square pattern
- Picture of the Giant Dala Horse at the Scandinavian Heritage Visitors Center in Minot, ND.
- Wooden Horses of Sweden from Folk Art to National Symbol -- a book about the Dala Horse and the men and women who make them. There is also a book called The Magic Horse by Chris Mosey which is out of print and apparently hard to find. (I have to look for these when we are up in Andersonville!)
Hope you found this interesting! Even though I only have a touch of Norwegian in my blood, I am so taken with everything Swedish! I'll post more about Swedish crafts in the future!