Monday, June 22, 2009

Dala Horse - Sweden

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.

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.

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