Thursday, October 8, 2015

Folklore Thursday: 12 things you didn't know about German dwarfs

Today is Folklore Thursday on social media! If you want to find out more, follow this link, or click on the #FolkloreThursday hashtag on Twitter! Hosted by @FolkloreThursday.

This is both my Folklore Thursday and my Dietrich Cycle post this week, because I am taking PhD prelim exams and this is all I have energy for. So.

I am reading a PhD dissertation from 1976, written by George Hans Heide, titled Dwarfs in German Folk Legend: An Inquiry into the Human Quality of these Creatures. It is a well done study; the author marked and labeled all the German dwarf legends he could find (in English and in German), and summarized all he found out about Dwarf society thematically (Appearance; Habitation; Society; Possessions; Skills and Occupations; Amusements; etc.) I am about halfway through the book, and I have found some very exciting little tidbits that I wanted to share:

1. In some occasions dwarfs might dress up in clothes that imitate the colors of songbirds. (How awesome an image is that?!)

2. Dwarfs can have a variety of skin colors, from snow white to black (take that, Tolkien fandom).

3. Dwarfs pee. (It's documented)

4. Female dwarfs ("dwarfesses," according to Heide) are pregnant for 9 days. (Good for them?...)

5. Dwarfs in German legend are a lot smaller than you think: Most often they stand about 3 spans (27 inches = app. 69 cm) or 2'4" tall - although some stories make them somewhat taller, the height of a child. They can also be a lot smaller, the size of a fir cone. Newborn baby dwarfs are the size of a human thumb.

6. There is at least one documented legend about a human nobleman cheating on his wife with a beautiful dwarfess.

7. Dwarfs can have queens!!! (This is important to me for the Dietrich research)

8. Dwarf children ("dwarflings") can play with human children, and sometimes they contract lice.

9. Dwarfs like to eat peas, grapes and raisins.

10. Female dwarf musicians play cheerful music; male dwarf musicians play solemn music.

11. Dwarfs enjoy nine-pin bowling.

12. Dwarfs enjoy storytelling. (I knew I liked them for a reason)


  1. Pregnant for nine days?! Lucky them! I've never given much thought to dwarf pregnancies but now that I've pondered it for a while, I feel like they should be much longer than that. Hrmm.

    Looking forward to catching up with all your summer writings now that I'm back to it! :)

    1. Hi! Welcome back! :) And yeah, I can't tell if a 9-day pregnancy is good or bad. Depends on when you start showing, I guess... Not a lot of time to make a nursery, though :))

  2. My favorite was the nine pin bowling! I didn't even know that was a thing, much less enjoyed by Dwarfs. :)