The creatures that the modern gnome ornament is based are thought to have originally appeared in Scandinavian stories and their appearance was more like what we would associate with what we call orcs.
They were thought to be magical creatures that avoided being seen by humans as if this happened then they would be frozen.
Gnomes, or at least figures which are very much like them, have featured in myth and legend for hundreds of years. Many do believe that these are based on creatures which exist in nature.
In many stories and drawings these creatures did often wear tall hats and it was in the 1800s in Germany that ornaments that were based on these creatures started to be manufactured and sold but with a more friendly appearance. This was, of course, to make them more likely to be sold and was successfully and resulted in the increase in the number of them that were manufactured.
It is thought that the Germany-based factories and gnomes inside them were destroyed during the world wars and in the mid-1900s a gentleman called Sir Charles Isham saw these items in Germany and took them to England to be placed in his yard. People saw these and word spread of them then many people began to place them in their own gardens to help make the area more warm an appealing.
The ornaments then developed into a closer version of what we know them to be now where they have the big hat, long white beard, large belly and big boots. The fact that they sit in a person’s yard is thought to be based on the old stories where the creatures were frozen if seen by humans.
We have written an in-depth guide on the history of gnomes that you can read here.
What Nationality are Gnomes?
The gnome ornaments that many people place in their gardens today were originally made in Germany in the early 1800s and are thought to have spread across Europe and into France shortly after this. In the middle of this century it is believe that some of the original figures were bought in Germany by Sir Charles Isham and taken to his home in England. It is from here that their popularity increased in the UK.
So, the nationality of gnomes is typically associated with Germany, France and England.
Are Gnomes Evil?
It is thought that they are NOT in fact evil however some of the more aggressive ones are thought to bite and have sharp teeth. This is only if they are provoked though.
In fact, many people think that the purpose of gnomes is to protect things and people. For example, for a number of years that have been seen as protectors of gold, silver and minerals stored in the gardens of their owners. They are thought to have a jolly and friendly personality and enjoy socializing with each other and partaking in hobbies such as fishing.
Are There Gnomes in Lord of the Rings?
In early versions of Lord of the Rings, there was a gnomish race of creatures that was later changed to become Sindarin. The term “Gnomes” were also used in one of Tolkien’s early books called The Book of Lost Tales. These were a race of elves that became the Noldor.