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  • #1478
  • European European (culture)
  • Domestic Domestic (attribute)
  • Humanoid Humanoid (attribute)
  • Friendly Friendly (behaviour)
  • Dwarves Dwarves (common type)

A Dwarf or Elf that helps household tasks in German folklore. They are similar to the Brownie of Scottish folklore in the way that they would come to ones house at night and finish over any household chores that had been left undone.

There is a tale that relates to the Heinzelmannchen of Cologne. There was a tailor who had a very curious wife who was intrigued to learn more about the Heinzelmannchen and what they looked like. One evening she covered the floor with peas so that the Heinzelmannchen would slip and fall. She then hoped to leap out and capture some of them. Night fell and sure enough the Heinzelmannchen came and they slid out on the peas but most mysteriously they got away and never came back. From that time on the inhabitants of Cologne had to do all the work themselves. There is still a fountain in Cologne in which there is an inscription that reads ‘Neugierig war des Schneiders Weib’ meaning ‘curious was the tailors wife’.

A poet named August Kopisch wrote a famous poem about these creatures in 1836:

“So it was once upon in Cologne,
so comfortable with the Heinzelmen!
One could been lazy ... just lie
down on the bench and let things slide.
There came at night, before one knew it,
little men who swarmed
and worked and fussed
and plucked
and picked
jumped and trotted
cleaned and scoured -
and before the lazy man awoke,
his daily work was ... already done! ...”

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Does Heinzelmannchen Exist?

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If there's something that I've missed or would like to add then please let me know and I'll update the article. If you've seen this creature in films, TV, computer games, books or even old stories, please post a comment.