For Swedes seeking respite from the hectic pace of daily life, the Dalarna region is known as a place to relax and rejuvenate. Located in central Sweden, the region is a haven of nature wrapped in a peaceful atmosphere and is considered a symbol of traditional Swedish culture. In this article, I will introduce the features and handicrafts of the Dalarna region.
Dalarna region with its quintessentially Swedish landscape
The Dalarna region is one of the provinces in the Svealand region of central Sweden, consisting of 15 cities, including the county capital of Falun. The region is known for its tranquil and quiet atmosphere, just 2-3 hours by train from Stockholm, the Swedish capital.
Sweden’s beautiful natural landscape is characterized by clear lakes and lush forests. The Dalarna region is famous for preserving such pristine Swedish scenery, with red-painted houses scattered throughout.
This color is called Falun Red, a traditional Swedish paint, and the wooden houses are uniformly painted in this shade. The contrast between the reddish-brown streetscape and the blue sky is considered beautiful.
There are many lakes in the Dalarna region, and they create stunning landscapes, including Lake Siljan in the central part. The town of Leksand, located on the shores of Lake Siljan, is also known as the site of a large Midsummer festival held every summer.
This nostalgic Swedish landscape spreads throughout the Dalarna region, providing a sanctuary for Swedes living busy lives.
Falun, a World Heritage site
In the 17th century, the Dalarna region flourished as one of the world’s leading producers of copper and iron. In particular, Falun, the current county capital, was the foundation of Sweden’s mining industry and a central copper-producing area.
Falun, where mineral resources were mined for an extended period from the 13th century to its closure in 1992, was inscribed as a World Heritage site in 2001 as the “Great Copper Mountain in Falun.”
Also, the iron oxide produced during copper smelting has an antiseptic effect, and copper has long been used as a paint for Swedish wooden buildings. As a result, the region is full of reddish-brown houses painted with copper-derived paint, indicating that the Dalarna region was once a major copper-producing area.
Dala Horse, a traditional craft of the Dalarna region
The Dalarna region is also famous for its traditional handicrafts, one of which is the Dala Horse, a wooden horse carving. The Dala Horse, also known as the Dalarna Horse, is a traditional craft from the Dalarna region, and its origin is believed to be a toy that loggers made for their children during their spare time at night.
Today, it has become a representative specialty of the Dalarna region, with Dala Horse workshops located throughout the area. The Dala Horse is characterized by all stages of the process, from wood carving to painting, being carried out by hand by craftsmen. The handmade unevenness of the shape is part of its charm.
There are various colors available, including the classic red, black, white, and blue. Dala Horses often feature floral patterns, which are called “kurbits,” a traditional pattern of the Dalarna region. Dala Horses are primarily sold as souvenirs and come in various sizes, from palm-sized to large enough for a child to ride.
In Avesta, a town in the Dalarna region, there is even a 13-meter tall concrete Dala Horse as a sculpture.
The popularity of the Dala Horse as a souvenir is not only due to its appealing design but also the folklore associated with it. In Nordic countries, the Dala Horse is known as the “bringer of happiness,” and it is said that placing a Dala Horse in your home will bring happiness to the residents.
Therefore, Dala Horses make a delightful gift for friends, family, and those who have helped you. Many people also display them as interior decorations in their homes.
For a more detailed explanation of the happiness-bringing wooden horse, the Dala Horse, please see the article linked below if you’re interested.
In modern Sweden, the Dalarna region, where time flows at a leisurely pace, is said to be a cozy place to visit when you need a break from work. Handmade crafts like the Dala Horse, unique to the Dalarna region, are also popular.