The theme of souvenirs and artifacts bought in remote places, their originality or falsity is often discussed. It sometimes stirs emotions of a traveler who went to the end of the world and brought it home where a receiver of this precious goody discovers ‘made in China’ written on a hidden part of the object. Although I rarely buy so called souvenirs I remember that before my first trip to Norway I wanted to buy a red wooden horse. Desperately. It might be odd for you why looking for a wooden horse in Norway while this is a popular artifact in Sweden so let me tell you a short story.
When I was studying in Milan I often visited a foreign students’ office. A very nice young lady worked there and her office was full of lovely stuff brought by students from all over the world. Once, I saw a cute red wooden horse with traditional floral patterns. I asked the lady where did she get it from and she told me that this was a gift from one of the Norwegian students. We talked a while about Norway and how bloody cold and dark it must be at this time of the year but I knew that one day when I’m in Norway I will buy a red wooden horse. I even saw in my imagination how beautiful it looks in my future office.
No surprise, my first day spent in Norway was dedicated to the research of this wooden horse. I was astonished because nobody asked for this kind of a souvenir knew where I could buy it! People in Norway are not very direct so I was not told that I was a total ignorant. Instead, I was told in a shop to visit a workshop around the corner. In a workshop I was informed that I should visit a local museum. And so on, and so forth. I got totally confused and thought that perhaps people in Norway are not familiar with their own traditional artifacts. Eventually, after hours of fruitless search I gave up. I felt sorry that I was getting back from Norway without this bloody horse!
Fortunately, on my way home I stayed one day in Stockholm in Sweden. Needless to say that the whole city center and every little store is FULL of red wooden horses! You may even find horses made of plastic and wool, they are red and white, you can have it on your T-shirt or on your textile bag. All in all, it was obviously a Swedish souvenir rather than Norwegian one. After this trip I was pretty sure that I should have never trusted the young Italian ladies and their ‘expertise’ in foreign countries. Once for all I remember not to trust any Italians giving advice on red wooden Swedish horses!