Origins of the Wee Folk Gnomes

Famous German Garden Gnomes:
Origins of the Wee Folk

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By most accounts, gnomes originated in the icy vastnesses of Scandinavia. Their resemblance to humans suggests that the two species evolved together, and may even be distantly related (though don't tell that to the gnomes). By 1,500 years ago, gnomes had migrated into the rest of Eurasia, spreading as far west as France and as far east as Siberia. It's from our friends the Poles that we get the name "Gnom" (with an extra "e" added to the end to make it special). German garden gnomes are perhaps best known, and come in two types: lowlanders called Erdmanleins, and alpine gnomes with the jaw-cracking name Heinzemanchens. Even harder to pronounce is the Icelandic Foddenskkmaend, though Kleinmanneken, their name in Luxembourg and Switzerland, is almost as bad. Danes and the Norse keep it simple with Nisse (with their cousins the Swedes preferring the term Nissen), and in France they're called Nains.

Gnomes are clever and excellent at hiding, so it's no wonder that they found their way to the New World along with European settlers. With its wide variety of environments, from thick forests to rolling, sandy beaches, gnomes have come to feel right at home in the New World, and their population is growing steadily with each passing generation. In the two centuries or so, gnomes have spread all over the United States and Canada, from sea to shining sea. They're not nearly as common in Central and South America, but they've begun to make significant inroads into the south. They've also colonized Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa, and it's said they have their eyes on the other South Sea islands too.


On to part two :: Cute Garden Gnomes and other Woodland Gnome Ancestors :: Back to Gnome Guide Index


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