S.don’t age anyone, that’s a dwarf. He’s only short, but he wears a cap that makes him tall. Big as a deity named Mithras, small as a Celtic hooded demon named Genius cucullatus. In the numinous world, different standards apply – as on the bottom of the Moldau with Brecht. “The big doesn’t stay big and small doesn’t stay small,” a connotation that the revolt poet never imagined. Because the garden gnome from Thuringian manufacturers was frowned upon as bourgeois kitsch by his peers. In the GDR, however, it was traded under the counter under the counter and brought foreign currency to the socialist state through the export of state-owned company gnomes. A desecration of the venerable guardian spirits and ancient helpers who, always ready to travel, rushed to the people to give them a hand – as long as they were not discovered. The wretch under the hooded cape had a better reputation then than the one under the hoodie today.
So is the red pointed hat of the garden gnome a relic of the bearded Cucullatus, who had to dress warmly in the Atlantic climate of Gaul and Britain? Or does it refer back to the Phrygian cap made of tanned bull’s scrotum, which in ancient Anatolia was supposed to transfer the fertility and strength of the animal to its wearer? Homer knew it, the Persians adopted it as a tiara, which later crowned Byzantine princes and, from the Middle Ages, the popes. Mitra, the Vedic-Persian god of legal order and loyalty to the alliance, also wore this cap, his Roman offshoot Mithras bequeathed his sun nature to Christ and his bishops the “Mitra”. During the French Revolution, the “bonnet rouge” emerged, which from then on was regarded as a symbol of freedom. The German revolutionaries put the Jacobin hat on their Biedermeier opponents as a sleepyhead – a case history of cultural appropriation?
Disrepute among the scouts
At least with that the German Michel was born, who is so fatally reminiscent of the garden gnome. Wouldn’t he have a spade, pickaxe, wheelbarrow or lantern in his hands that identify him as the hard-working descendant of short ore miners or subterranean elementals who guard immeasurable treasures in fairy tales and legends, provided they do not protect threatened princesses like Snow White. They are not beautiful. Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach created the first baroque garden gnomes out of marble. But the stone men, whose oversized heads are reminiscent of the overgrown “court dwarfs” of the Renaissance, fell into disrepute among the Enlightenmentists. In Goethe’s verse epic “Hermann and Dorothea”, a garden owner complains that nobody is interested in his “beggars of stone” and “colored dwarfs”.
Nevertheless, in the 19th century the garden gnomes began their triumphal march through the bourgeois foothills and soon also through the allotment gardens. And not just in this country. The first dwarf series originated in England around 1800. On the northern slope of the Thuringian Forest, Heinrich Dornheim founded the first German workshop for dwarfs made of terracotta in 1856. The serial production of garden gnomes began around 1890. Gräfenroda became the European center of the “Gnömchenmacher”, as the manufacturers called themselves, because garden gnomes were still called gnomes until the 1920s. In England they are still called “garden gnomes” today, and as Harry Potter knows, they can also devastate a garden, like Wagner’s Alberich the world. Reinhard Griebel, owner of the garden gnome manufacture and museum in Graefenroda, knows how a harmless garden gnome is cast, attached, modeled, fired, painted and varnished from clay. With the “Countess Roda” he even invented a garden gnome. After all, there were also particularly pretty gnomids among the gnomes.
The honor of the original
The garden gnome is no good for gendering, and the gnome is neutral anyway. Still, the garden gnome always had a hard time with ideologues. Suspected and sometimes banned by the National Socialists, ridiculed by the sixty-eighties, it has been experiencing a renaissance since 1990. Provocative models emerged: the so-called frustration dwarf dropped his pants or showed the finger and was dragged in front of the cadre. In order to save the honor of the original, the “International Association for the Protection of Garden Gnomes” was founded in Basel in 1984. She knows that her protégé is 69 centimeters tall, masculine, bearded, with a pointed tip. This is what they already looked like in Augusta Treverorum: the Genii cucullati, the protective demons of Trier who do not need any protection.