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The earliest records of Dala horses’ production date as early as the 17th century and in the 19th century artist Stikå-Erik Hansson revolutionized the horse painting by introducing the two-colors-on-the-same-brush technique.The tradition of hand-making Dala horses was strongest during the 19th century as a way of fighting poverty and recession: the small carvings were often used for bartering and at the same time, the painting techniques flourished and were carefully passed on to future generations.Many of us have seen the red Dalecarlian horse unaware that the Dala horse is one of the most famous examples of Scandinavian and specifically Swedish folk art.The name "Dala horse" () is partly an abbreviation or nickname derived from the word "Dalecarlian," referring to the language/dialect spoken in the Swedish province of Dalarna, the place where these red carved horses originated back as early as the sixteenth century.Eldest brother Grannas Anders began producing Dala horses in 1922, aged 26, along with other items that he sold through traveling salesmen.Younger brothers Nils and Jannes would help out by carving horses after school.The following year, 20,000 Dala horses were produced for shipment to New York.The Olsson brothers of Nusnäs began carving horses as a way to help supplement their family’s income.

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While the Dala horse itself may have pagan origins, the history and meaning of the Dala's flowery white and green painted style of decorative painting is also associated with the Dalarna province and was used to decorate furniture and other things popular in a traditional Swedish household in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.So when I found out about a new collection of wooden Dala horses having found its way over from Sweden to England I was delighted.The county Dalarna, which these wooden horses are originally from, is on the completely different side of Sweden to where I am from – but as I said; you just seem to love everything from your home country when you no longer live in it.While Dalecarlian horses began as unpainted wooden toys whittled and carved cheaply with a knife for children to play with, red Dala horses painted with the now distinctive decorative white and green ornamentation were presented as examples of traditional Swedish folk art at the World's Expo in Paris (1937) and World's Fair in New York (1939).What is the meaning of the Dala horse and its unique ornamentation?The art of carving the lovely wooden horses is linked to Sweden’s cold winters when this was probably one of the few ways for passing time and also represents the country’s rural background: horses were used for farming and have supported the Swedish families for thousands of years.

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