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The Fantastic World Of Gnomes

Updated on January 8, 2013

The Wonderful Creatures That Are Gnomes

Gnomes are the caretakers of the earth. They make things grow - plants, trees, flowers and minerals. They are also said to make the world lively and pleasant by adding colour to nature.

These tiny spirits are earth-dwellers, with homes usually built underground or beneath sturdy trees.

Gnomes are friends to almost all animals and birds, but they are always careful not to run into predatory creatures.

As caretakers of the earth, they are hard-working and work hand-in-hand with the fairies to ensure that earth's treasures are cared for and protected.

Gnome sightings have steadily become rare so not many people are aware of what they are up to these days. And of course, with the destruction of many of our natural resources, gnomes like many animals of the wild, are now forced to move where the reach of humans is limited. We can only guess that gnomes and other fairy folk have chosen to live on the remotest corners and crevices of the Earth.

Image: Cover for the book Gnomes written by Wil Huygen and illustrated by Rien Poortvliet

Gnomes (original Dutch title: Leven en werken van de kabouter) was a book published in 1977 written by Wil Huygen and illustrated by draftsman Rien Poortvliet.

This charming book that had captured the imagination of countless people in the Netherlands and beyond offer an almost scientific glimpse at the history and habits of gnomes. Huygen, after all, was a scientist, a physician by profession and that showed in the way he related his observations of this fantastic creatures in the bestselling book.

His illustrator friend, Poortvliet who also co-authored the book was a self-proclaimed characteristic narrator. The two Dutchmen's talents obviously merged well to produce one of the most fantastic books of the 20th century that can still enchant and regale people today.

The authors stated in the book that in the olden times, when the forests were still virginal and the waters clear, people regularly encounter gnomes, and that they were either punished or rewarded depending on their attitude. However, as nature's destruction became more widespread and people became careless, gnomes were forced to hide and retreat in corners where people do not venture.

This causes the beliefs in gnomes to steadily wane. Still, though they are unseen today, it does not necessarily mean they do not exist.

Reference: The Enchanting World Of The Gnome. Reader's Digest. August 1978 Issue p.105

Some Amazing Facts About Gnomes From The Book 'Gnomes'

  1. The average life span of a gnome is 400 years
  2. The average height of the male gnome is 15 cm.
  3. The sense of smell of gnomes is 19 times more acute than that of human's
  4. Gnomes are nocturnal creatures
  5. A gnome disguises his travels with a bird's foot pattern on his boots
  6. Every gnome couple has one set of twin children
  7. Gnome pregnancy lasts twelve months
  8. A male gnome makes sure he has a sturdy house built way before he starts a family
  9. Gnomes are friends with all creatures save for cats
  10. Gnomes are seven times stronger than humans

Learn more fascinating facts about gnomes...

The book by Huygen and Poortvliet is just the first of a series. Aside from Gnomes, other works include:

- The Secret Book of Gnomes by Huygen and Poortvliet

- The Complete Gnomes by Huygen and Poortvliet

- Gnome Life by Wil Huygen

- A Gnome's Christmas by Rien Poortvliet

Though Gnome sightings have become increasingly rare, there are still some who are lucky enough to be allowed a glimpse of a gnome. Are you one of them?

The Gnome Home

Huygen and Poortvliet really exerted a lot of effort to show us how fascinating and even real the world of the Gnome is. The image above is from a spread in the book Gnomes showing the interior layout of a typical gnome's home in great detail.

The layout of every gnome's home depends on the position of the roots of the tree under which it was built. Gnomes are very careful when building their abode and take great consideration as to avoid doing any damage to the tree.

Gnomes In Popular Literature

In the Harry Potter series, gnomes are tiny garden pests that have potato-shaped heads. Witches and wizards de-gnome their garden by picking the tiny creatures up by their small horny feet, swinging them in circles to make them dizzy, then flinging them high into the air away from the garden. Gnomes depicted in the JK Rowling series are hardy little creatures and the de-gnoming process doesn’t hurt them any at all and they usually end up finding their way back to the garden. Harry Potter gnomes also occasionally enjoy being chased by cats.

JRR Tolkien used the word ‘gnome’ in his early work and made them a part of his High Elf but later dropped the word because gnomes as depicted by folklore were so different from his own depiction of High Elves. The gnomes in Tolkien’s work were later known as the Noldor.

In L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz series, gnomes were the primary adversary of the inhabitants of Oz.

In C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, gnomes were enslaved by the Queen of the Underland along with the prince son of King Caspian X and she planned to use them to take over Narnia.

The outstanding book for children The Little Grey Men written by Denys Watkins-Pitchford (BB) have four gnomes as protagonists. The gnomes were the last of their kind in Great Britain and when one day, after setting out, one of their comrades did not return, the three remaining gnomes decided to look for him. What followed was an adventure that spanned a year and which allowed readers to see nature up close and understand the way wild creatures live. The book was recognized as one of the best fantastical books to emerge during the war years.

Free Gnome Coloring Pages

Have fun with your kids with these gnome coloring pages.

Gnome Garden Party

Forest Gnome

Gnome and Mushroom

Gnome Relaxing On A Field

Image Sources:

Coloring Pages For Kids

Color Page


More Adorable Gnome Books From Huygen and Poortvliet

Gnomes For Your Garden

Gnomes are nature’s helpers so naturally avid gardeners think their gardens will fare better with gnomes in them. And of course, garden gnomes are also great garden or lawn decorations.

This lens was created just for fun and to remind myself of how much fun I had as a child reading about fantastic creatures like Gnomes.

Thanks to:

Angel Light Spiritual Centre

Marc Chandler Original Animation

A Billion Tastes and Tunes


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    • greentiger11 profile image

      greentiger11 5 years ago

      Gnomes remind me of smurfs and I have no idea why but I love them!