Design element – Kurbits

Lately, I am playing with a Swedish design element that has been around since the 1800s called a kurbit. According to Dalahorse.com the kurbit “comes from the Biblical story in which Jonah sat outside the city of Ninevah and the Lord caused a Kurbit, or gourd vine, to grow up beside him to protect him from the desert sun”. For a very interesting essay on the Dala horse and its prominence in the World Expo of 1939, I recommend this site. There, you will learn all about this important symbol of Sweden. From the same site, is this history of traditional kurbits painting, which is also interesting.

In looking around the Internet at various kurbits examples, I found everything from the traditional to the more avant garde. Below are some designs and applications that grabbed my eye. (Attributive links when you click on the photos.) Note all the applications. They are endless.

My kurbit drawing is last.


This one reminds me of a Tarot card… stunning!


Okay (drum roll)… Here is mine:

This is just my first attempt. I was doodling around on some different supports, and I can’t wait to try that next!

2 thoughts on “Design element – Kurbits

  1. Interesting. With an untrained eye like mine, I wouldn't have put the plate (pic 3) in the same category as the other art. It lacks the symmetry & non-floral shapes of the other pieces. Yet, I'm sure there are technical details I'm not educated enough to notice, which classifies it as a Kurbit. I really like the bright colors and detail in your piece. You have the symmetry part nailed too. Nice work. 🙂

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  2. I think you might be right James. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than both of us might know (or confirm my suspicions) that there are requisite elements in kurbit rendering. Must it be symmetrical, and must there be a vessel of some sort at the base, as I am seeing in many kurbits illustrations, and is in the plate illustration. Must it have that tole painted technique? In short, what qualifies a kurbit as a kurbit, and what is "allowable" within artistic license?

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