The Dalahorse - a carrier of light

In the end of 19th century Dalahorses sometimes were made as candle horses. There were three different kinds:

- Single candle holders with a drilled hole in the back of the horse

- Combined candle holders with half horses, front part of the horses assembled to a common centerpiece, where the candle holder was. (In the beginning of 1970 Grannas made a small series of such holders using 15 cm horses)

- Exclusive chandeliers made of wood with Dalahorses as candle holders. Sometimes the horses were placed on the outer edge of a wooden cross, or the horses were placed on a spinning wheel. In the chapter below you can see examples of both, thanks to unique photos from the beginning of 1900, borrowed from the Zorn museum in Mora.

Candle holder from Grannas A. Olsson.
Antique candle horses from Grannas A. Olssons collection.
Copy of an old candle holder.
Photo: Zorn museum; Interior from Morkalby, Mora 1906. Please note the beautiful Chandelier in the ceiling.

Zorn and the folklore traditions in Mora

Anders and Emma Zorn were very interested in various folklore and they encouraged the keeping of the traditions. The industrialization threatened to abolish most of the traditions from the ”old world ” and Anders and his wife contributed in different ways to help preserving handicraft, wooden and textile (among that the very beautiful native dress from Mora), and also traditional folk music.

Zorn also founded Mora Residential College for Adult Education and actively helped to found an organization for Mora Handicraft, which is one of the oldest in Sweden and still existing with a shop in central Mora. A natural part of the assortment from the very beginning was of course Dalahorses and this also helped the Dalahorse to reach the traditional Christmas fair in Stockholm, already in the beginning of 1900.

Candle horse from the Zorn museum

Mora Hemslöjd (Mora Handicraft) was also important in consolidating the Dalahorse as a symbol of Sweden, administrating thousands of small wooden Dalahorses sent to the New York World Fair 1939,(see later chapters).

The black and white photo from an art class 1911 at the school Zorn founded, shows the artist Anders Zorn among pupils. (Zorn is in the middle of the photo) Also note the chandeliers decorated with juniper and Dalahorses in the ceiling. (As a curious fact, these beautiful 19th century horses were brought to Grannas in the beginning of 1960 to be redecorated, which, sadly enough, also was done).

Candle pig(!) from the Zorn museum
Photo: Zorn museum; Mora Residential College for Adult Education 1911. Anders Zorn in the middle of the photo. Chandelier with horses in the ceiling.
Photo:Gunnar Romson; Rombogården. Chandelier in the ceiling.

The beautiful chandelier of Rombogården

Above you can see a photo from 1912, where Svea Romson sits in the sofa by the window and read a book. In the ceiling is a stylish chandelier, where 6 horses has been placed on a spinning wheel, also decorated with club moss. The wheel itself is no longer existing, but five of the slim, red brown 19th century-horses.

Below photo shows that one of the horses has an obvious burnt damage where the candle once has been.

19th century candle horses from Rombogården, Mora.

The Phenomenon Dalahorse-candle holders

We have not found any written information or other references about Dalahorses as carriers of lights, so it is difficult to establish how frequent they were being made.

Older candle horses are unusual and the explanation might be that they really were produced in small series. Another reasonable explanation is also that several have been destroyed by fire, since they all lacked a security candle cup of metal.

Our collectors horse of 2009 was a carrier of light -”Bella”- (which, of course, had a candle cup of metal).

Collector´s item 2009 Bella.