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The Legend of the Garden Gnome

Updated on December 6, 2016

Garden Gnomes may have reached their popularity when Travelocity decided to use one a s a mascot for their commercials. Garden Gnomes were instantly a hit. But what are Gnomes really? Where did they come from? Where can you find them? Are they really a myth? Here is rundown on garden gnome history and much more!

What are Gnomes?

What are gnomes? Folklore has them as mystical creatures who are protectors of the Earth and nature. Gnomes can be mischievous. Some stories have gnomes destroying peoples gardens just for fun. Gnomes have become more famous with JRR Tolkiens the Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter Movies.

Source

The History of the Garden Gnome

Garden gnome history originated in Germany. The word gnome itself is derived from Kuba-Walda, which means " home administrator" or "home spirit". The Garden Gnome was created in response to a myth that the garden gnome was supposed to help your garden at night. More history of a garden gnome states a common gnome is nearly three inches tall and can be found living in the wilderness. Gnomes are friends to all wild creatures, They are often characterized by their long pointy hats and white beards. Gnomes are the most benevolent of all mythological creatures.

Garden Gnomes became more popular in the United States in the 1930s. Garden gnomes were manufactured in plastic in the 1970s and fashioned after the dwarves from the movie, Snow White and Seven Dwarves.

Some more garden gnome history

In the 1800's Terra cotta gnomes were placed out in the gardens as they were thought to be guarding over the gardens at night. The notion spread and soon every one had a garden gnome protecting their garden. The placing of gnomes did became controversial as many of the UK gardeners believed the gnomes took away form the beauty and design of the garden. It is said the gnome enthusiasts accuse the gardener of snobbery as Gnome adorn nearly every garden in the UK.

The Secret book of Gnomes

The Secret Book of Gnomes was perhaps one of my most favorite books when I was growing up. If you are a fan of fantasy then you might remember the cover illustration with the measurements of Gnomes on the front. It was written by a gnome named David (Wil Huygen) and illustrated by Rien Poortvliet, The illustrations are beautiful and many of them can be found in this hub.

Gnome figurines

Gnomes have been depicted as figurines as well as lawn ornaments. Some of the best known figures are those by Tom Clark. This artist was actually inspired by the book The Secret Book of gnomes and fashioned one out of clay from an illustration. This was done out of pure curiosity. Little did Mr Clark know is that he was to launch a whole line of gnome sculptures known as"Woodspirits".

Mr Clark is the lead sculptor at his studios, Cairn Studios.

Gnome Liberation Organizations

We cannot leave out Gnome Liberation organizations when speaking of garden gnome history. The thieving of garden gnomes, or gnoming as it is called by some has been going on for years. In fact it is still occurring. Not too long a go a man in the UK was arrested for stealing at least 100 garden gnomes. I actually had a friend who would take a garden gnome form a yard take a picture of it some place and then put the gnome and the picture back in the yard!

There are organizations out there that wish to free the garden gnome and return them to the wild. The organization The Garden Gnome Liberation Front was founded in France in 1997. This organization has been "active" in their cause. Reports say they stole at least 150 gnomes within a years time. The leader of the organization served a suspended jail sentence for the stealing of gnomes. The organization made news again as it demonstrated a 'mass suicide ' of gnomes in the year 2000. The organization took 11 gnomes form peoples gardens and hung them upside down from a bridge. The note attached stated "When you read these few words we will no longer be part of your selfish world, where we serve merely as pretty decorations." Several years later Paris hosted a garden show with nearly 2000 garden ganomes. At least 80 gnomes were liberated in the name of freedom.

The writer wonders if drugs are legalized in the France??

As if one wasn't enough, there are actually two Gnome liberation organizations. Known as Malag, short for (Movimento Autonomo per la Liberazione delle Anime da Giardino). They established the first ( and perhaps only) gnome sanctuary in Italy. The town of Barga was earger to accept the nickname as gnome sanctuary. The Malag claim that the gnomes are all migrating their way to the city.

 Ok Maybe make it three Gnome liberation organizations! This liberate the Gnomes website below is located here in the united States.  In exploring this  site i discovered some emails about freeing gnomes and wondering how to keep them warm at noght  I also found some literature about a German Gnome embargo.  i really wasn't to sure about how serious to take the sight when I stumbled across the Act now button.  This site gives directions on how to send a letter to the gnomes captor.  The scary thing is this site also asks for the "gnome captors" address and if there are any physical impairments to getting the gnome such as fences or dogs...

The free the gnomes site is happy to take money or credit card for you to purchase their gnome items.  They are also happy to take donations (????)  OK so maybe I retract my "are  they on drugs" comment from France and place it here!!!!  What are people thinking.....

Source

There is no doubt that garden gnomes appeal to out childlike sense of wonder. Perhaps that is why they are immensely popular. They do stir an emotion in us and that makes them more real.There are many artists out there who bring the gnome to life for us.  The more notable ones are Ton Clark and Tom Kimmel.  There works inspire us to become kids agian.  I suspect garden gnomes and their supporters will be around for a long time to come. Now if you will excuse me.. it is nighttime and I have to see if my gnome is in his garden or if he took off wandering again!

Are Gnomes real?

There is a lot of stuff on the Internet that says yes.. they are real! Take time to browse the website below. it is filled with pictures of nature that have hidden faces in them! Take a look and decide for yourself!

 I also ran across this video that was supposedly taped in Argentina.  It was also produced by a reliable source like the Sun!  the quality of course is poor but you can definitely see a gnome figure.  He is a little bigger than 3 inches tall.  Funny how they give the Gnome a creepy edge to him!

Gnome sighting in Argentina

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    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      What a unique hub! This is more information than I knew existed about gnomes. I have always thought they were adorable. This was a fun, lighthearted hub to read.

    • Ms Chievous profile imageAUTHOR

      Tina 

      7 years ago from Wv

      This IS true laughing loon! Who would have thought!

    • laughing loon profile image

      Lynda -Bailey 

      7 years ago from South Los Angeles

      What a fun hub!!! I love the idea of gnomes. In high school one friend took another friends favorite stuffed animal to tour Europe with them. They sent pictures of the gnome by signs telling the location. All in fun!!It seems kind of ironic that a creature that is known to guard the home becomes a spokesman or a symbol of a safe trip.

    • profile image

      bp 

      7 years ago

      gnomes are real!!!!!!!!

    • Karen Ellis profile image

      Karen Ellis 

      8 years ago from Central Oregon

      Fun Stuff, thanks for the info.

    • Ms Chievous profile imageAUTHOR

      Tina 

      8 years ago from Wv

      Hey Tantrum! Thanks for the info on the argentine gnome!! I figured since the Sun was exploiting it it wouldn't be true. That's pretty good for a puppet though! Good to see you here!

    • tantrum profile image

      tantrum 

      8 years ago from Tropic of Capricorn

      Lol !!I'm from Argentina and that was a hoax lol!! I remebered very well. the guys had to confess at last. It wasn't a midget .It was a trick done with a doll or puppet

      Good hub !! It made me laugh a lot. cheers !!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 

      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Ms Chievous - Great Hub. Last year someone kidnapped a man's gnomes from his yard. It was a big todo. Apparently some teenagers thought it was funny and eventually returned them but the gnome owner was not amused. I enjoyed this - thanks.

    • Ms Chievous profile imageAUTHOR

      Tina 

      8 years ago from Wv

      Dohn I agree with you about the midget being dressed up! The video was too good for me to pass up though..I also thought the part about the gnome liberators was more entertaining than the gnomes themselves..They never said how many people were in their organization.. hmm maybe some more research.. Thanks for being a good fan!

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 

      8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I think that the gnome in the video is just a dressed-up midget if you ask me! Growing up, it seemed that everyone had a garden gnome, but maybe that was my imagination. Other people had those sculptures of jockeys who held the lamps which lit up at night, so those actually had two reasons for grazing people's lawns. I liked how you made mention of the organization that kidnapped gnomes! What's wrong with those people? Thanks for the entertaining hub!

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