A garden gnome’s friendly smile may not be as it seems…
- Garden gnomes are human-like figurines based on dwarves, typically used in gardens for decorative purposes.
- ‘Garden gnomes’ are also known as ‘lawn gnomes’ or are simply called ‘gnomes’.
- The stereotypical garden gnome is a bearded-white male with a red hat, though variations exist.
- Garden gnomes have their history in statues that were placed in gardens during the Renaissance period in Europe, and in some of the 17th century statues, dwarves were depicted.
- Some of the earliest manufacturers of garden gnomes were Johann Maresch and Adolph Baehr, who became partners in about 1841 and established a factory in Germany.
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- Early garden gnomes were made of clay, porcelain or wood, while modern ones are typically made of resin, plastic or ceramic; though cement, plaster and cast iron materials have also been used.
- Gnomes, and garden gnomes by extension, traditionally are symbolic of good fortune; and they were likely to be first used in gardens because they were seen as protectors and night-time helpers.
- Garden gnomes are generally painted in bright colours, and they are often depicted holding a garden tool or other object.
- As a common practical joke, or as an act of vandalism in extreme cases, garden gnomes have been stolen – ‘kidnapped’ – from gardens, and been taken on a journey and photographed at places of interest.
- Garden gnomes were popularised in Germany during the 1800s, and from there, the ornaments were distributed to England and other parts of Europe.