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A horse that brings happiness, Dalahest

Dalarna Horse, a symbol of Sweden Dalahäst, a traditio...
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Dalarna Horse, a symbol of Sweden

Dalahäst, a traditional Swedish craft, is popular all over the world as a ``horse that brings happiness'' and is also one of the symbols of Sweden.

"Dalahest" means "Horse of Dalarna" in Swedish. In Japan, it is introduced as Dalarana Horse.

It is a traditional craft that has been hand-carved and hand-painted for about 300 years in the Dalarna region located northwest of Stockholm.

It was originally made as a toy for my own children.

On long winter nights in Sweden, his father and grandfather would sit by the fireplace in their room and carve a horse out of leftover wood with a single knife.

Horses were an integral part of life in Sweden at the time, so it seems that horse toys were naturally born.

Swedish Dalarna Horse
Stikå Erik Hansson, Risa, Mora dated 1880

Beautiful since ancient times, Darahest

At first, horses carved from solid wood were the mainstream, but over time they began to be painted bright vermilion.

This is because Falun, a town in Dalarna, is famous for its copper mine where high-quality copper can be extracted, and the vermilion paint is produced when copper is produced.

It was around the 19th century that unique patterns began to be drawn on wooden carved horses.

It became widely known as an artistic craft, and the village of Dalana began producing Dalahest in earnest.

At that time, in the village of Risa in Dalarna, there was an artist named Stikå Erik Hansson.

He is well known for teaching the technique of applying two colors with one brush.

His Dala Hest has very nice flowing lines, and has a novel design that makes it hard to believe that it was made over 100 years ago. Currently, Hanson's works are fetching high prices as antique pieces.

Swedish Dalarna Horse
Dalahäst from Nusnäs, Nils Olsson Hemslöjd & Rättvik

Learn about the unique horse designs

Even within the village of Dalana, the design of the Dalahest seems to vary depending on the region.

Currently produced in Nusnäs, the main production area for Dalahest, Dalahest is characterized by its stocky, agricultural horse-like shape.

On the other hand, Rättvik's Darahest is a straight and slim looking horse, and is typically painted gray.

Swedish Dalarna Horse
Nils Olsson Hemslöjd

Nusnäs is home to the famous Dalahest workshop Nils Olsson Hemslöjd, which was founded in 1928 and has continued through the family for generations.

It was founded by brothers Nils and Janis when they were 13 and 15 years old respectively!

On the home page of Nils Olsson Hemslöjd's website, there is a video of a horse being created from a piece of wood with just a knife, and it is so soothing to watch.

Nowadays, the saws used to cut the wood are electric, but other than that, Darla Hest has been made using the same techniques from generation to generation for over 90 years, which is surprising.

Swedish Dalarna Horse
Dalahast

The wood used in the production is left over from construction materials, and the shavings left after making the Darahest are reused as wood chips at a neighbor's house, so it's very eco-friendly.

The staff at the workshop have this to say about the production of Dala Hest.

“We are very proud of the fact that we are still making Darahest using traditional methods. We are preserving our cultural heritage with our own hands. Because I feel like that.”

Watch the video introducing Darla Hest Studio
Nils Olsson Dalahästar i Nusnäs

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