Reality or myth? Gnomes are magical creatures, part of the popular culture that we grew up with since childhood. They are found in many children’s stories, fair attractions, tv series, and movies.
Join us on our adventure into the magnificent world of gnomes!
The easiest definition of gnomes would be that of fantasy creatures which were initially identified as spirits or earth genies. Later on, gnomes were depicted as tiny creatures that lived in the forest, and they would sometimes be shown working in a mine or, on other occasions, they would blend in with the dwarfs.
Depending on which area are they are from, gnomes have different characteristics; however, one trait that is shared by all gnomes alike is their beautiful, pointy hats.
The origin of gnomes dates back to the 13th century, and according to tradition, Frederik Ugarph, a Swedish citizen, was visiting the house of some fishers in an area that is currently part of Norway. That is where he found a figurine of about 15 centimeters, that showed the image of a bearded man wearing a pointy hat, which had been carved in wood taken from the root of an unknown tree.
The words “Gnome, real-life size” were carved in the figurine and it is considered to be the first evidence to support the existence of these magical beings.
In many European countries, such as Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Finland, United Kingdom or Luxembourg there are gnome legends, and even though sometimes they are called by different names they have the same characteristics.
There is a wide variety of gnomes, each with its clothing and unique characteristics, and each type of gnome has its own habitat.
They live in forests, and they are the most common type of gnome. They help animals, especially when they are injured by hunting traps.
They are taller, they live in colder areas and are known for always being in a bad mood. They wear dark clothing.
They live in tropical areas, and they are the shortest of all gnomes.
They usually live in dunes and wear light-colored clothes.
Similar to the forest gnomes they live on farms along humans and help animals have a pleasant life.
They are also very popular, and gardening shops sell statues of these magical beings that according to legend help grow healthy plants.
These gnomes live in our houses, with a preference for big houses especially if they have a basement. They help humans fix broken things.
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Gnomes live up to 400 years, and once the women are around 120 years old, they will always give birth to twins, either two boys, two girls or a boy and a girl. This way the population remains stable.
As mentioned earlier, depending on the type of gnome, they will each have a different height and weight. Generally, an adult gnome is about 15 centimeters tall (without adding the hat), and weighs about 300 grams if it’s male and around 250-270 grams if it’s female. The Siberian gnome, because it is the tallest kind, measures 19 centimeters in height.
In some folk stories and television series, such as ‘David the Gnome,’ trolls are the magical beings that try to make the gnomes’ lives impossible, and they are depicted as ugly, foul-smelling creatures.
Despite receiving help from gnomes, human beings can also be considered their enemy, especially when they go about cutting down the forests where they live. An interesting film that illustrates this issue is ‘The Gnome-Mobile’ by Walt Disney; it tells the story of a young gnome and his grandfather and how, due to indiscriminate deforestation, they are the last two existing gnomes in a natural park.
Despite being so tiny, gnomes are almost seven times stronger than humans, they can run much faster than them, and it is also rumored to have better vision than a falcon.
Because they live in the wild, gnomes possess great wisdom regarding natural remedies, and it is also said that they are master artists when it comes to plant grafting and budding. Moreover, gnomes have the gift of telepathy which enables them to communicate with each other over vast distances.
Commonly, gnomes are depicted as magical beings with a diet that consists solely of fruit and vegetables. They will sometimes drink milk, or eat eggs which are a gift from birds that don’t have enough space to incubate all of them.
The story of the gnome from Girona became famous in Spain at the end of the 1980s. A married couple was allegedly having an idyllic day in the countryside when they encountered a small creature that was observing them. They identified it as being a gnome, and after they caught it, they trapped it in a birdcage.
According to the story, after four days the gnome died and was placed inside a glass bottle with formaldehyde, after which the couple sold it to Ángel Gordon, a passionate parapsychologist that specialized in vampires.
In the end, it all turned out to be a scam, and the remains found inside were identified as being a three-month-old calf fetus.
Although Frederik Ugarph’s legend is the most popular, there are other sources which indicate that gnomes were created within the Jewish Kaballah belief system, and state that there is a gnome which governs each animal.