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The story of the garden gnome

The story of the garden gnome

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The story of the garden gnome, phase # 1

No, the story of garden gnome does not start with the tales of Grimm, even less with the imagination of Walt Disney. They were not even related to the Seven Dwarfs of Snow White, originally, although many of them are now like two drops of water.

Let's start from the beginning: at 15e century, as the Renaissance takes off, workers in Cappadocia extract precious metals from Turkish mines. According to legend, the workers then protected themselves from the scree with the help of red caps garnished with straw, associated with clothes of bright colors to remain visible in the darkness of the mines.

Concerned about the well-being of their employees - or rather their productivity - the mine operators would have ingeniously sculpted wooden statuettes in their image, supposed to protect them from the dangers to which they are exposed. In short, magic amulets.

The story of the garden gnome, phase # 2

Needless to say, the statuettes have disappeared, but fortunately for us (or not), an Austrian sculptor made marble copies from 1690. These are still visible at the Mirabell Castle in Salzburg, Austria, and constitute the oldest known garden gnomes. Thank you, Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach (or not).

From there, the statuettes which are not yet called garden gnomes multiply. From Austria, they reach Switzerland where they decorate chic gardens, then Germany where the very first industrial production of red cap gnomes is launched.

The UK enters the dance in the 19the with a series of German terracotta garden gnomes brought back from the trip… Sir Charles Isham, a worthy owner and British gardener, can boast of having perpetuated the story of the garden gnome for centuries to come. And don't laugh, from the gentleman's collection, there is only one survivor, now estimated at over a million euros.

The story of the garden gnome, phase # 3

Once posed in their first gardens, the story of the garden gnome becomes a fashion phenomenon. Like most modes, they have therefore entered the popular culture, which has only cemented their status as stars. Excuse me a little, but Goethe talked about it, the Grimm brothers passed them on to posterity, Disney animated them. They had their books, their comics, their songs, are from all the cartoons, have squatted the television series… Not long ago, we came across them as investigators in Sherlock Gnomes or as a lover in Gnomeo and Juliet!

Popular one day, always popular, garden gnomes unleash passions and stimulate the imagination. The proof, there is even since 1996 a Liberation front of garden gnomes, or FLNJ. Its members take the well-being of the snowmen very seriously, to the point of "liberating" them by releasing them in their natural habitat. Clearly, the hooded members of the FLNJ disembark at night in the suburban suburbs, steal the garden gnomes and deposit them in the forests… not without leaving a message in the owners' mailbox, telling them where their dwarf has gone to roam of garden.

The conclusion ? Since they have lived in popular culture for several centuries, we will not take too many risks supposing that the gnomes do not intend to leave us anytime soon. Whether we love them or hate them, the story of the garden gnome is not likely to stop tomorrow, you might as well get used to the idea.