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About the Dala Horse

The Dala Horse Story brought to you by:  Hemslöjd, Inc. Swedish Gifts
The Dala Horse is a popular Swedish handicraft and souvenir.  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.

Traditional Dala Horses from Sweden


Shop for Dala Horses Here!

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.  Traditions vary in giving credit to woodsmen and to soldiers for originating the craft.  Dala Horses from the Nusnäs-Mora area first appeared with their familiar bright decoration in the 1800's when the kurbit, or flower patterned saddle, was regularly added to them.  This design comes from the Biblical story in which Jonah sat outside the city of Ninevah and the Lord caused a Kurbit, or gourd vine, to grow up beside him to protect him from the desert sun.
The Dala Horse gained international popularity when it was chosen by the National Crafts Union for part of the Swedish display at the Paris Exposition in the mid-19th century.  Skills for creating the Dala Horse have been passed from generation to generation and today it is one of the few living folk traditions of Sweden.  Men of the village carve the horses at home, bringing them back to the main workshop to be painted by skilled artists there.  Most Nusnäs-Mora Dala Horses are the traditional reddish color, but the same workshops also produce blue, black and natural horses.  Other towns in the region are known for different colors and styles of horses.
It seems appropriate that the Dala Horse was selected by the city of Lindsborg as its symbol of identity with Swedish customs.  The practice of using a Dala Horse-shaped plaque at the entry of homes, bearing the address or family surname, was begun in Lindsborg by local artists in the early 1960's.  Today the Dala Horse is recognized as an unofficial symbol of Sweden throughout Swedish-America.
Hemslöjd (pronounced hem-sloyd) means "handicraft".  Hemslöjd, Inc. opened in 1984 at the north end of downtown Lindsborg, Kansas, "Little Sweden, U.S.A."  At our workshop we make, decorate and personalize Dala Horse-shaped signs.  We also create other Swedish-style wooden items, especially candelabras, and we custom-etch glassware.  You are invited to watch the craftsmen at work and visit our gift shop of Swedish and Scandinavian imports.  Be sure to pick up a mail order catalog of our products.
Thank you (tack!) for visiting the Hemslöjd on the World Wide Web!
Hemslojd Swedish Gifts Site Map
1-800-779-3344 Hemslojd, Inc
PO Box 152 - 201 N Main St
Lindsborg, KS 67456 USA