These handcarved wooden ironing boards served to work wrinkles out of linen cloth, yet their carved geometric patterns, painted decoration, and stylized, horse-shaped handles suggest the objects' aesthetic importance.
The horse symbolized strength and virility in pre-Christian Scandinavia. Its appearance on these more recent objects may not have the same symbolic meaning, but the horse has survived as a decorative motif in Norwegian folk culture.
The variety in chip-carving techniques demonstrates the craftsman’s woodworking skill, an important attribute for nineteenth-century rural Norwegian men. The more elaborate the mangletraer, the more skill possessed by the maker. This was important as the boards often served as betrothal gifts, a marriage proposal by proxy, from a man to a woman. The maker demonstrated his abilities and creativity by making the piece as elaborate as he desired. If a woman accepted a man’s mangletraer, she accepted his marriage proposal.