Picture of Dala Horse @ Unsplash

The Swedish Dala horse is a classic carved wooden toy representative of traditional Swedish design. During the 18th century in the Swedish province of Dalarna lumbermen would relax from work by carving wood animals (often shaped as horses) that were taken home for their children. Then in the 19th century the horses were painted in “mug painting”, similar to the ‘Kurbits’ Swedish folk art style. Dala horses were often used as forms of payment for goods and lodging, therefore demand (in and out of Sweden) grew: basic horse shapes were cut freehand in sawmills out of wood from slow growing pine forests, then local wood carvers would collect these roughly cut wooden horses to finish the carving at home with Mora knives, only to return them back to the mill to be sold. This process still takes place nowadays, although mass-produced Dala horses are also available: try to protect this traditional craft by choosing to buy the authentic toys. Read more, and also learn how to carve your own Dala Horse: Scandinaviastandard