Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Is that a Dwarf or a Gnome?

He was dressed well, in a charcoal-gray miniature suit. His hair was white, and pulled into a braid down his back, and his beard, which hung long and thin to his portly belly, was braided also. His eyes were small and a bright-yellow hazel but he barely reached Omar’s thigh in height. What he lacked in height, however, he made up for in power...

Magical Creations - coming next month!

[Image courtesy; Brenda Rosen, The Mythical Creatures Bible pg 253]

If you're wondering what the above creature is - it's a Gnome!

As I've said before, and will say again, I have an enduring love of magic and mythological creatures in whatever form they come. So todays post subject is Gnomes and Dwarves - in honour of the many German vistors I get to my blog (yes, I see you there).

Do you know the difference between Gnomes and Dwarves?No? Allow me clarify for you!

Gnomes were first described by a Swiss physician/alchemist named Paracelsus. They are described as being earth elementals, that typically dwell in caves and other subterranean abodes. They are rather unattractive little humanoid creatures about 30-45 cm tall. There is some discussion as to whether they are magical or not, but as an elemental they have the ability to vanish by dissolving into trees or soil. They are the guardians of precious minerals and metals. They can be either helpful to humankind or tricky and malicious until someone has won their trust.  Unlike the Dwarf they do not possess any particular skill for metal work.[Rosen, B. 2010, The mythical  Creatures Bible, pg 253]

The Dwarf generally used in literature is of Germanic origin (though Dwarves are also noted in Native American mythology and several other folk tales). Commonly known as "Little People" they are said to be larger than a Gnome. The mythological dwarf appears as stocky old men with oddly shaped noses and feet. They are generally described as creatures of the earth. Dwarves of this ilk are expert metal workers - who fashion metal into magical objects (rings, swords, helmets etc). The Dwarves of Germanic myth are divided into three groups.
White Dwarves -  gentle and peaceful dwarves who spend time making beautiful gold and silver objects throughout the winter, and in summer frolic in meadows and woodlands.
Brown Dwarves - (similar to the Brownie) are considered more malicious and have been blamed for stealing human babies (I think Rumplestiltskin may be based on one of these). They also apparently play tricks on a chosen household and bring bad dreams to those under its roof.
Black Dwarves - can't you guess? These are are the seriously dangerous dwarves. They create false lights to lure ships onto rocks so they can plunder cargo and also use their metal working skills to create deadly weapons  that they strengthen with magical curses.
[Rosen, B. 2010, The Mythical Creatures Bible, pg 272]

A household spirit in Germanic tradition,  loosely related to the Dwarf is the Kobold, these are quite benevolent and help keep houses clean and tidy. Clearly, my own Kobold goes missing for days at a time!!

If you're into Gnomes, and quite frankly, I'm not - be sure to visit Gnomesville in Western Australia. I've been there, and found it weird and a little freaky... but if you like garden gnomes, you'll be in heaven. There are thousands of the things, heck they're even in the trees.

Anyway, is one last thing I'd like to show you about Gnomes and Dwarves and this is a youtube clip of a "real life" Gnome. It was taken by a bunch of young guys in Salta Argentina. It makes me laugh - the guy's reaction as he zooms up on the Gnome is priceless. It's pretty poor quality footage though (as is to be expected!!) none the less enjoy!


  1. Great Post thank you :D
    I thought you might enjoy my new machinima film Narration Of The Gnome, Bright Blessings ~