Gentle giant

Just imagine… you’re sitting in your timbered red barn or wooden cottage. The snow lies heavy outside in the winter darkness. The fire is crackling and the kids are playing. And if you were a man back then – about 400 years ago – then you might have found yourself whittling pieces of wood and making toys for the children.

Old red barn

Old red barn

Apparently, this is the humble origin of the Dala horse, which is a symbol not only of Dalarna, where it comes from, but of Sweden itself.

The traditional Dala horse is smallish and painted bright red with a harness of white, yellow, green and blue. Each horse is hand-finished and the details are painted on by hand too.

In Southern Dalarna, you can meet the world’s largest Dala horse! This gentle giant is made of concrete and weighs 66.7 tons. I think you’ll agree that it is impressive in stature with its 13 metres of height!

Dala_horse

It takes nine people to create a handcrafted Dala horse. And don’t worry, they are made out of pine and not concrete!

My own Dala horse is a rather shy creature and prefers to hide behind lots of kiddy-made jewellery.

Dala_bling

For more insights into our wonderful world, please visit: That’s My World!

44 responses

  1. Those are gorgeous!! And I loved the picture of the barn and the thought of being holed up without much to do but whittle. 🙂

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 05:39

  2. How wonderful! and how beautiful they are! I love the barn! Great shots and a marvelous post! Thank you!

    Sylvia

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 05:47

  3. That is one giant horse!

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 05:58

  4. Good morning to a fellow early riser.

    The more you write about Sweden the more I long to see this beautiful country first hand. I think all the tall blonde beautiful men and women might make me feel a little short and round though. Is it true they are all gorgeous?

    i love this little horse -and the big pine one.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 06:02

    • Most Swedes are very fit and many of them are gorgeous. However, it is a stereotype to think that they are all tall and blonde… Many and short and dark too.

      Like

      September 22, 2009 at 07:43

  5. These creatures remind me of the Oiaxaca carvings from Mexico. So charming. Hope I spelled Oiaxaca correctly!

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 06:20

  6. Nice red barn. Interesting world. Great shots.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 06:46

  7. I absolutely love the beauty and richness of colour of that barn/workshop. Great post. Thank you for sharing.
    Smiles

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 07:06

  8. The horse is gigantic it is great culture 🙂 thanks for bringing it alive through your blog.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 07:39

  9. I had one of those little horses once, it was bright orange. I dont know what happened to it! Now I know the story behind them.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 08:08

  10. that is wonderful!

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 08:11

  11. Usually I collect cats of all sorts but this horse is so cute I would add it to my cat collection, lol !

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 08:36

  12. Everyone has a Dala horse in Sweden? If men carved them by the firelight 400 years ago, how did they get so big? They’re really beautiful.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 08:46

  13. Ooohh they are beautiful!! I’ve never heard of a Dala horse before!!

    Because of reading your blog Sweden is now really high up on my list of places I want to visit!!

    C x

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 08:51

  14. What a pretty barn! and my daughters would love one o fthese horses.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 09:57

  15. The gentles giant in the whole of Sweden!

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 10:24

  16. Did you take the photo of the red barn? Excellent composition.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 12:48

    • Thanks! It’s a red barn I photographed in Dalarna!

      Like

      September 22, 2009 at 13:00

  17. So much red! The first picture is just lovely the way it is captured. The horses are beautiful!

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 13:18

  18. What a special horse. I bet your kids love it! Interesting world you live in.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 13:23

  19. I’m guessing that Dalarna is a region of Sweden? Asking you is so much less labor-intensive than actually googling it. Is that the region where you live?

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 13:44

    • Yes, Dalarna i a region in Sweden. I don’t live there however. We live in the countryside, 30 km outside Stockholm, which is south of Dalarna.

      Like

      September 22, 2009 at 14:17

  20. Its awesome! 9 people? Wow. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 13:53

  21. You know I grew up with one in the house! I didn’t know the story behind it – I guess one of our swedish students must have brought it as a gift.
    I shall have to ask my mother where it is!

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 14:26

  22. Wow that’s a huge horse and complete by 9 people, that’s amazing.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 14:46

  23. Blu

    love that dobbin, and the wee one is a great place for ethnic bling.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 15:36

  24. My barn! On the Internet! Wow! Today, the old barn got a new roof, by the way

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 15:50

  25. How cute! I didn’t know about this horse.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 16:03

  26. That’s a whopper! I have a couple of them here at home, but of a more modest size.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 16:34

  27. Amy

    Oh I have one of those!!! I actually have two…a white horse and a red horse!! Do you live near Dalarna? I was thinking you were closer to Stockholm?

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 19:06

  28. We went to Stockholm when Brainbox was 4 or 5 and we have a picture of him sitting on a Dala horse. And we have a fridge magnet of one too!

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 19:16

  29. I’d always wondered about those Swedish carved horses.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 19:19

  30. The world’s largest Dala horse is HUGE. And gorgeous!!

    I love it 🙂 As always thanks for sharing!! I love coming over here and finding new treasures.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 19:24

  31. This must be the week of me seeing things I have never seen at blogs! Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 20:03

  32. Po

    What beautiful horses! Does it have some kind of symbolism or meaning?

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 20:58

  33. We love the horses – both big and small!

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 21:45

  34. Marvelous creations! Thanks so much for sharing this tradition.
    Hugs and blessings,

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 22:59

  35. I lvoe those red horses, how cute! The red barn is great too. Thanks for sharing your photos and the part of the world.

    Like

    September 22, 2009 at 23:00

  36. I bet that first horse took a while to whittle…

    Like

    September 23, 2009 at 11:25

  37. J

    I now know that we have a Dala Horse…I’ve occasionally idly wondered about its decoration. Glad to see that yours isn’t missing out of the dayglo beads! 🙂

    Like

    September 23, 2009 at 16:50

  38. Well it is a very pretty little horse, or big horse..which ever. I like to whittle..we have lOOOOng winters:)

    Like

    September 24, 2009 at 02:45

  39. I love learning things about other cultures. Thanks for that

    Like

    September 24, 2009 at 04:48

  40. I keep thinking of Dalai Lama, reading this :))

    Hey Fiona, I know you’ve been waiting for the full story of the driver….i just posted it….xoxo

    Like

    September 24, 2009 at 06:58

  41. I love anything horsey, and these Dala horses are no exception. Esp with the bright colors, they are just gorgeous!

    Like

    September 25, 2009 at 14:41

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