Friday, February 11, 2011

Creature Feature: Gnomes

Pretty much everyone, at one time or another, has seen one of those little plastic garden gnomes. They hang out in gardens, star in television commercials and movies, and seem to constantly be getting into trouble. But where did they come from? I wasn’t really sure myself so I attempted to do some research. Unfortunately the information I found was somewhat limited. It appears that no one knows exactly where the Gnome legend comes from or how far back it dates.

It’s believed that gnomes were a part of European folklore in the 1800’s. They are mentioned in an earlier work by Paracelsus and in Grimm’s Fairy Tales and their popularity has spread all over the world.

Gnomes are thought to live underground, have a love for gardening and working the earth and like to hoard treasures and gems. Some people consider them elementals and believe they have some magical abilities. Male Gnomes are usually portrayed with long white beards.

Recently a number of people in Argentina have been claiming to have spotted Gnomes running the streets at night and there are several videos on the internet of the Argentina Gnome sightings. While these videos are most likely faked, they are pretty interesting. Here are some links to the videos.  Gnome Video 1Video 2. Video 3.

So I’m curious if anyone has ever spotted something that looked like a Gnome? Do you have one of those little plastic Gnomes in your garden?

Clute, John and Clute, Grant. “Elemental.” The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. New York. St. Martins Griffin.

Paracelsus. (1566.)  Liber de nymphis, sylphis, pygmaeis et salamandris et de caeteris spiritibus. Nissae Silesiorum.

Grimm Brothers. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales. New York: Pantheon Books, 1944


  1. In World of Warcraft, gnomes are so cute. They make great spellcasting classes too because they get a bonus to intellect which effects damage output.

  2. I think gnomes are mostly pretty cute. :)

  3. When I was young I loved that book about gnomes (by Will Huygen and Rien Poortvliet) that had those awesome illustrations of their homes and clothes. I have never seen one but I've been looking ever since I read it!

  4. I've never heard of that book but it sounds really interesting. I may have to look for it the next time I am at a bookstore.