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Books - Rubezahl
SOS: Searching Out Stories/Info - Rubezahl
Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers,
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Book titles are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
To retell any stories, obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In peformance, always credit your sources.

Rübezahl, (German Edition) by Ferdinand Goebel. (2009 - in German)
Rübezahl by Karl Paetow. (2003 - in German)
Rubezahl: The Adventurous Mountain Spirit
by Johann Karl August Musaus. (1991 - in English)
Rübezahl by  J.K.A. Musaus. (2008 - in German)
Silesian Folk Tales: The Book Of Rubezahl (1915) by James Lee. (2008 - in English)
Rübezahl by Unknown. (1990 - in German)

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Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians
(excerpts from Storytell posts plust original research)

Book titles and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Story titles are in quotation marks.
To retell any stories, obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In peformance, always credit your sources.
Posts are added chronologically as they are received by Story Lovers World.


As a part of my storytelling costume, I carry a cane. The cane was purchased a couple of years ago to replace one that I had made. The new cane has the figure of an old man's long, bearded face with equally long hair carved into it just below where the handle meets the stem.

The face is supposed to represent a forest god or a keeper of the forest. I used to have a little folded paper that came with the cane that told about this forest god/keeper. I seem to have misplaced the paper. Anyway, as I recall, it told of this god/keeper who inhabited the black forest of Germany. At a couple of performances, children have asked me about the figure. It would be wonderful to have a story to tell them of this figure.

Perhaps one of you could tell me about this figure or could suggest some sources I could look up. Do you know any stories about such a figure as this forest god/keeper? Would you be willing to share them with me? If by chance one or more of these stories are yours, would you give me permission to use them?


a) The figure who comes to mind is Rubezahl (could be spelt Ruebezahl). I don't tell any tales of him myself, but I think some on the list do. What I know about him is that he is associated with the Black Forest, and possibly some other forests, too. He is powerful and often rather malicious, but can sometimes help - certainly someone to be very wary of.

b) Some sites say he is a fairie, demon or the Spirit of Peace. Here are some references.

He is mentioned a few times on Jackie's site, under Christmas stories

He is also mentioned in Project Gutenberg, excerpt below:

"And so it went on for some time; and, whenever the man with the lantern had been seen walking through the street at night, so sure as the morning came, some work had been done for the sake of some good soul; and everybody knew he did it; and yet nobody could find out who he was, nor where he lived;--for, whenever they came near him, he blew out his light, and turned down another street, and, if they followed him, he suddenly disappeared, nobody could tell how. And some said it was Rubezahl; and some, Pelz-Nickel; and some, St. Anthony-on-the-Health.

Excerpt from second site:

As for Berbel she believed that the forest itself had helped them, when she saw all that had been accomplished and remembered how she had bought the flax pound by pound at the market. Though a great share in the joint success was due to her own patient industry, the result seemed so fine as compared with the humble beginnings that she was much inclined to thank the Heinzelmannchen and their ‘brownies’ for the most part of it all. The baroness thanked Providence, and Hilda thought it was all due to her love for Greif. Perhaps they were all three right, and possibly each shared in some measure the views of the other two. At least so far as the gnomes are concerned, most people who have lived long in forests and solitary places have discovered that their work, if they like it, is performed with a rapidity and skill which is marvellous in their own eyes, and if you do not call the little gentleman who comes at night and helps you by the name of Rubezahl, you may call him the Spirit of Peace. But as long as you receive him kindly and give him his due it matters very little how you christen him, for he is an affectionate spirit and loves those who love him for himself, and does their work for them, or makes them think he does, which, in fact, is just the same.
Karen C.

c) Some days ago, Joan L. asked "Does anyone have any recommendations for tales involving gemstones--preferably magic ones!? Or any Christmas tales where I could change the magic object to a stone?" There is one story that I seem to recommend at least once a year, "The Christmas Crabapples" in a Ruth Manning-Sanders collection called Festivals that has gemstones in it. I have been telling this story for a number of years and am still working through the process of deciding how I want to tell it, and since I seem to be in a talkative mood lately, instead of just recommending it, I want to detail some of my thoughts about it. In a roundabout way, what I have to say actually relates to a small part of Sheila D.'s very thoughtful post on telling Native American stories, so please bear with me.

In this Bohemian folktale, a mysterious figure called Rubezahl (more details to come) meets a poor peasant in the woods. The peasant explains that he is a widower with many children and he can't afford to give them any gifts, but it is Christmas Eve and he hopes at least to decorate a tree for them. He is carrying a small fir tree, branches of holly with red berries and trailing vines of ivy. He tells Rubezahl that he is looking for a crabapple tree in the hopes of finding some late-hanging fruit he can use to decorate the tree. Rubezahl leads him to a crabapple tree and the man fills his pockets with withered apples. As the crabapples hang on the tree throughout the 12 days of Christmas, they grow bigger and heavier and shinier, even though the ivy withers and the holly berries dry out and fall off. On 12th Night, the man tells his children they may eat the apples and he takes his knife to cut one in half. When his knife meets resistence, he carefully breaks the apple open and instead of the pips finds five shiny rubies. He opens the other apples and each has five jewels.

The Manning-Sanders version of the story opened with something like "The Demon Rubizahl lived in the mountains. He was a mischievous one! He loved to play tricks on people." I learned the story for the final meeting of the first storytelling class I ever took, a library school class, but I mentioned to a professional teller I had met through the class that I felt uncomfortable with the idea of a Christmas demon. Her response was "Then change it!" So I worked it over and next year told it from the peasant's perspective. I transformed Rubezahl into the "Mysterious Stranger" - a classic figure in many tales. When I told the story in a family setting and ended with "Our thanks to that stranger, whoever he was," and my niece breathed "Santa Claus" with awe, I was quite pleased with my success. I told it that way for a few years and I still like it.

However, at some point, I mentioned this story and my changes on this list, and former list member Nick S. pointed out to me that what I had done was leave out the most important German element of the story - what in fact made it a Bohemian folktale. Through him and comments from other list members, I learned that Rubezahl is a well-known character in east German folklore (I envision him as somewhat comparable to Puck in English lore) and that "demon" was probably a mis-translation. Nick said that what it is important is that Rubezahl gives everyone what they DESERVE. What Nick said made me think. I now see what I had done as comparable to taking the most widely told Pele tale in Hawaii and recasting it to leave Pele, the volcano goddess, out entirely and simply telling it as a generic Vanishing Hitchhiker story, but still calling it a Hawaiian legend. What I had created WAS a good Christmas story, based on a folktale, but it was no longer a Bohemian folktale.

I tried to return to telling it the way Manning-Sanders had told it, calling him an imp instead of a demon but I still wasn't comfortable with it. I decided that I really needed to learn more about Rubezahl and without time for the serious research that is probably needed, I did a quick web search. I am going to be retelling it at my swap group tonight. I have now seen various terms used for Rubezahl, and "gnome" seems to be a common one that I am comfortable with. I know that he is a mountain spirit associated with the wind and weather, which figures in many of his tricks. He watches over children to keep them from getting lost in the woods, even though one of his favorite tricks is to give wrong directions to travelers. He can influence the growing of crops. I've read one very long tale from an Andrew Lang collection ( The Brown Fairy Book (Complete and Unabridged with Original Illustrations) ) retold in flowery, elaborate Victorian language, that explains why Rubezahl is known as "Turnip-Counter." I read another, much earthier and probably more typical story in which Rubezahl, disguised as a traveler, pays some traveling musicians with horse dung. Three of the musicians leave their "payment" on the ground in disgust; the fourth wraps his up and brings it with him and discovers that night that it has turned to gold. I also found several more legends in German, on 3 different websites - any of our German speakers want to give us a synopsis?

Judy S. - don't you collect Rubezahl stories? I know that he shows up in Bohemia, Bavaria, Silesia - roughly southeast Germany, southern Poland, northern Czech Republic - but I am still hazy on his geographic boundaries. I really don't know how much of this will work itself into my actual telling, but I feel that having at least a somewhat stronger sense of who Rubezahl is makes me more comfortable with keeping him in the story.

What does this have to do with Native American stories? First the obvious by knowing nothing about important cultural elements of the story (despite my own East European heritage), I was ready to change it to what I was comfortable with, which meant leaving out what would have been the most important part to a Bohemian teller. It is easy to do - and of course some tellers may feel that what matters is making the story meaningful to the present listener - not keeping the meaning for its previous listeners - but if that is what I am doing, how can I still call it a Bohemian folktale? We often seem to tell Native American tales as a way of teaching about Native American cultures - to support the curriculum - but the tales may have been so changed that they really tell us more about our own values than the culture we attribute the story to. If all you care about is telling a good story, that is one thing, but if you claim that your goal in telling is to educate people about other cultures, you need to be careful.

Also, of course, I realize how very superficial my knowledge is. I have barely touched the surface of information that is available, what I have found is sometimes contradictory, some of the sources are more reliable than others, one refers to Rubezahl in the plural, as a category of fairy folk, while all the others refer to him as an individual. While I can guess that some sources are more reliable than others, I don't have enough knowledge to evaluate them.

There is also the fact that, while I am aware of how limited my knowledge still is, it bothers me less in a story like this than in the category of sacred stories. Judy S.'s husband, who grew up on Rubezahl stories (and why didn't I remember that while I was visiting them?) might listen to me and think I got it wrong, but he is not likely to be spiritually offended by my mistakes. Someone said why shouldn't she tell Native American tales, if she isn't offended if they tell Celtic tales - but the analogy isn't exact. It would be more like asking how a fundamentalist Christian feels if an avowed athiest tells Bible stories while freely changing the characters and events and meaning around "to make a better story."

Ouch! I've been wanting to write a long post on the Native American thread, but I better stop here. I've been very impressed by several of the posts, especially Dale Ann, Sheila Darr, and LoiS. People have been making thoughtful comments from a variety of perspectives. I want to reinforce Sheila's encouragement to read Barre Toelken and his essay in the important book Who Says?

d) Another reference and story to Rubezahl is found in Time-Life's book Fairies and Elves (Enchanted World), on page 56. However the best book I have seen in English is Silesian Folk Tales: The Book of Rubezahl by James Lee and James T. Carey, c1915. It is extremely difficult to get this book, although some day (promised Mitchell), it will be online. That's another story as to where it falls in the current list of my to-do projects.

But in summary, firstly you're in big trouble. He is a mountain and storm spirit identified with the Riesengebirge Mountain range between Bohemia and Silesia and the keeper of vast underground treasure troves. He loves all pretty things, especially jewels like diamonds and rubies, and has lived for many hundreds of years. Most times, he lives peacefully next to man, but rile him up, and oh-oh, watch out! He likes to play tricks, is full of contradictions and acts according to impulse. What his real appearance is, no one really knows. He can appear in many shapes. He can be so beautiful that Apollo is ugly in comparison. OTOH, he may, and often does, assume an appearance so terrible that old women hurriedly mutter a fervent prayer, brave men take to flight, and young maidens sink in unconsciousness. His character is as changeable as his form. It is much better to call him Mighty Mountain Lord, because he hates the name Rubezahl which reminds him of that unfortunate love affair you mentioned that Andrew Lang chronicles.

A side note, there were marvellous marionettes of the Lord of the Forest and Mountain in Prague. I only wish I could have brought him home to dwell on my mountain range.

e) Would like to have the website addresses, though I don't think I can help you much on the translation. My German is conversational and I've never studied it formally - just picked it up from numerous visits. In fact, I do have a copy of LEGENDEN VON RUBEZAHL by Johann Karl Agust Musaus (1735-1785) (umlaut over the u in Rubezahl and the a in Musaus) but have quickly foundered over translating the literary German in it. I, too, was delighted to find the Andrew Lang version and I think I even got interlibrary loan to borrow the volume Batsy found.

I'm fascinated at how you've brought Rubezahl into this discussion. So far I'm more interested in the stories as a way of understanding my husband's boyhood. None of the Rubezahl tales have reached out and said, "Oh, my! You have got to learn to tell me!" as stories often do.

Your analysis poses a dilemma in a way. Is there a point where the ethical and intellectual pursuit of background and understanding could cause you to give up telling a story that demands to be told? It seems, if carried too far, counter-intuitive to the natural process through which stories are transmitted.
Judy S.

f) Here are some web site addresses with German Rubezahl stories. I suspect there is a lot of overlap, since most seem to list 5 stories - probably the same 5. Someone else from the list - Kathleen M. - has offered to have a go at a synopsis.

[These sites are in German.]

Your analysis poses a dilemma in a way. Is there a point where the ethical and intellectual pursuit of background and understanding could cause you to give up telling a story that demands to be told? It seems, if carried too far, counter-intuitive to the natural process through which stories are transmitted.
Judy S.

g) Good question - and yes, it is a dilemma. As far as the Rubezahl story goes, I don't think I have necessarily given up on telling it the other way - but, as I said, I would hesitate to say that story IS a Bohemian story; rather, it is based on a Bohemian story. But I am interested in seeing if I can come up with more than one way to tell it - and trying to learn more about Rubezahl has been fun.

When it comes to Native American stories, where the political and belief issues seem more complicated, I may have at least temporarily given up on telling some stories I would like to tell. I am far from having reached a final decision on this, but I do think it deserves careful thinking through. I hope to write another post to the list today on this topic if I have time and can get my thoughts together. The last was too hastily written. (see other longer post)

By the way, academics today, at least in my fields, are generally taught to question the concept of "natural" processes without placing them in social, historical, political and economic contexts that influence our expectations for what is or is not "natural." If you come from a society where it was "natural" for permission to tell particular stories to be passed on only to certain heirs with specific restrictions on the conditions of their use, having those tales published by anthropologists, who often were told the stories in exchange for financial reward under conditions of duress, and then to have the stories taken up by writers of books for children who change them to make them suitable for their new audience may not be seen as natural. Certainly it is possible to over-intellectualize, but I also think some tellers may be too quick to dismiss some of these issues without at least attempting to understand the complexities of the points that are being raised. But I DON"T think it is an easy question and I am far from thinking that there is one right answer that everyone should abide by.
Vicky D.

h) These two threads are what I was able to find in my files under Rubezahl.

Don't know who sent this one to the list.

Here’s a Christmas present for Vicky and anyone else who might be interested. Four of the German web-sites she found are from the German part of the Gutenberg project and contain text from two literary retellings of Ruebezahl stories, Rübezahl by Johannes Karl August Musaeus (1735 - 1787) and Rubezahl by Carl Hauptmann (1858 - 1921), elder brother of the better known Gerhart Hauptmann. In each retelling, the language is both archaic and regional -- reading has been slow but lots of fun.

Ruebezahl (I’m transliterating the u-umlaut as ue; also the a-umlaut in the name Musaeus as ae) is the mountain spirit, one might almost say the soul, of the Riesengebirge. That’s the German name for the rugged mountains that lie between Bohemia, now in the Czech Republic and Silesia, now in Poland. Historically, both areas have had significant German-speaking populations, but I don’t know how much German culture remains there now. Riesengebirge means ‘giant mountains’ in German. The Polish and Czech names are Karkonosze and Krkonose respectively. Krkonose is also the Czech name for Ruebezahl. Nowadays, the mountains are full of tourist and skiing resorts.

The Musaeus book contains five stories and the Hauptmann book has nine. I don’t yet know how the stories in one book relate to stories in the other, but I will. One of the Musaeus stories is the one in Andrew Lang’s Brown Fairy Book. I’ll be going out of town on 12/27 and I’m going to take the texts with me. I will post plot synopses on my return, somewhere around 1/5.

There’s an introduction to the Hauptmann book with a lot of background about Ruebezahl. To give you a feel for what the writing is like as well as who Ruebezahl is (or isn’t), we’ve done a pretty thorough translation. We hope you like it.

The last of the web sites Vicki found appears to be another, briefer description of Ruebezahl. I’ll try to get that done and posted before we leave next week. I’m getting to be rather fond of the old rascal.

It’s Truly an Unsolvable Mystery
[Introduction to Ruebezahl-Buch by Carl Hauptmann]
translated by Kathleen Mavournin & Bob Richmond

Ruebezahl, said to mean Turnip Counter – that’s what they call the mountain spirit of the Giant Mountains. None can tell why that uncanny magical being is called Ruebezahl. Who could know why some human is called Whistle-Breeches or Applestem or Pigtrough, who wanders the mountain roads as a real-life honest-to-God cobbler.

This much is sure – the Giant Mountains have been world-famous for a long time because Ruebezahl draws his character from their caves and mines and gorges and from the high moors and gravel slopes: the boldest of horse-thieves and ruffians; the wildest carnival barker and farm lout; and the most skilled musician on the rock drum and the gnarled tree branch.

He is just called Ruebezahl – no last name. There are teeming millions of humans, all of one and the same appearance in a great confused metropolis. There’s only one mountain spirit of this kind, always the same through all time. He needs nothing to distinguish him from others of his sort, as there is nothing else like him.

The mystery of Ruebezahl is as old as the mossy, green-glazed rocks hanging in clammy mountain gullies. Or as old as the white frothy water that leaps young and new every day over cliffs and rocks in the craggy ravines, in which a piece of wood carried off from the shore spins gaily, as if the rolling, swirling chase beneath were only a game.

Ruebezahl himself is as old as stone. Probably as old as the giant waves of granite that rolled between Bohemia and Silesia in ancient times and solidified into the Giant Mountains. Whoever can tell us when the first water from the mountains rushed into the valley could be the first actually to solve the mystery of Ruebezahl.

Many claim to have experienced Ruebezahl’s favor and mercy, even more his low-down craziness and malicious spite. It’s said that he left behind for a stiff dignified judge in Hirschberg, a stout stalk of straw
in his place as a thief hanged on the gallows. At the same time, with some disreputable cronies, he was boozing and roaring out insolent songs in the very council chambers of Hirschberg.

Many think they saw him as a backcountry squire with a feather fluttering in his hat and a wild boar harnessed to his sledge, plunging howling down the steep snowbank toward the Great Pond.

Reckless treasure seekers from far away, from Venice, swore they emptied ordinary woodshavings or pebbles out of their bags at home, which had appeared to them at midnight as sparkling gold pieces fluttering before their eyes.

The carefree journeyman tailor Sevenhair, who later was an honorable gentleman and landlord in Warmbrunn to his life’s end, attributed his riches to an uncanny, fear-filled night at the top of the meadows of the Elbe. He played there at bowls with Ruebezahl. This Sevenhair believed that the mountain spirit had changed an ordinary wooden bowling pin into a heavy gold nugget in his pocket.

But no one has truly seen Ruebezahl. Above all, it’s all just a riddle. Anyone who was once under his spell has seen Ruebezahl. Each swore that he had been eye to eye with him, as true to life as the trunk of an oak or a massive stone block. Swore that Ruebezahl’s eye had played as cunningly as the Elbe brook with the sun’s rays, that Ruebezahl’s mouth had laughed as harshly and resoundingly as a sevenfold echo in a snow cave. That Ruebezahl would seemingly spring up completely unexpected in the path as, for instance, a confused huntsman with stick and shotgun, briefly stamping and pissing and crashing about, as if the burly forester had quarreled with flying wind spirits in the empty mountain air. Or that an encircling illusion of young squires on horseback held a race with the storm bride across the fresh green meadows, then threw themselves down in the high grass to catch their breath for a while around their precious nags, those bags of bones, now foaming and panting.

All swore they had seen Ruebezahl. Sometimes as a haystack lifted up in human shape into the air and whirled away with the fog. Or as a coachman on the mountain pass to Bohemia, down in front of the Tattler Tavern. Or as a wigmaker at the fair in Redwater. Or as a donkey driver. Or again as a great lord in a richly glazed and richly harnessed carriage.

That is the great mystery, that Ruebezahl, the Soul of the Giant Mountains, cannot be grasped with hands. The whole realm of the mountains with clouds and whirlwinds, with marshy pools and sunny brooks playing, with rocky knolls and outcroppings in the path in the dark of night, with all its wanderers clad in dignity or in destitution, with uncounted shifts of weather and tangled thickets, with elusive wolves and bears in earlier centuries, with horses and cows, goats and shaggy curs, this whole realm of the mountains has been from time immemorial only the great clothes closet, in a manner of speaking, from which this indescribable spirit silently lays out, according to the mood of the moment, the exact piece that can give him form and, frequently, in which he can cause an uproar.

Since ancient times, Ruebezahl has appeared in a thousand forms, living and dead. He slips away through the air like a storm rider, and immediately afterward stands motionless, a boulder on the path. He escapes through a crack in the wall like a red mouse and then stamps out capers in a dance with the barkeep’s daughter at a remote inn, bawling and yodeling from his rusty throat.

Old and young are not fitting names for him. The mystery is that no person can say what the Spirit of the Mountains really is. Probably he himself doesn’t know what he is. He also changes continually. At one time, he’s a little baby in swaddling clothes at his mother’s breast that can only whimper and make strange owl sounds. Then again, when he chances to be a boy, he must go to the corner, a scolded schoolboy railing in secret against the hard fate of humankind. Or, a strapping young woodsman, he lies mortally wounded by a hunter’s gun in the furthest summer forest, dying of thirst, and must claw with his fingers toward the stream in order to drink. Selfsame, he can go through the world as an older, wiser, stronger gamekeeper. And in the end, as many a man who has heretofore been a world leader, must sit in a costly brocaded chair as a poor, sick, pitiful old devil whose grave lies already dug before him.

That’s hide-and-seek enough with the nature of Ruebezahl. Perhaps one would need an eternity to get it “home free.” But in one respect, Ruebezahl is unchanging. If he flies into the great storm clouds, none need fear, he’ll escape on the wind. One could almost be persuaded that he lies on the mountains as a heavy white cloud featherbed, wrapping up the stones and crevasses in soft white fleece.

However loose and free he is, he’s seemingly fettered to the mountains with hidden chains and iron bands. He has no thought, for instance, to travel toward the south. If he goes out hunting with his magical storm trumpet, he sounds it only in his native gorges and on his native heights. There’s playground enough, summer and winter, over the marshy ponds overhung with crooked branches, over the open meadows, and over the rubblefields and rockfalls, mentioned in whispers, that from the high crests look like noses sticking out into the valleys. Also enough sleeping places and corners to hide, where he can vanish secretly and from which he trills out his inviting pipe melodies.

Then there’s another question regarding Ruebezahl. Many believe that he once stole the young daughter of a count out of the Warmbrunn castle. The pretty countess, to her sorrow, never again found her way out into the valley after she dallied there in a spring meadow in the forecourt to pluck the silky silver anemones. She resides now, a captive, at the source of the Elbe, wandering seemingly free over the moor meadows, and weeps and weeps. Her crystal tears rain without cease into the valley.

And some believe, in fact, that the young noblewoman was seen alive on a later Sunday in the Warmbrunn church with two lovely children in her arms. She sat absorbed in prayer in the elegant pew that her mother, the old countess, always entered with her dark velvet prayerbook for devotions. But just as the church began to fill up, she was soundlessly swept away like a fragrant puff of incense. The two children appeared ever more plainly then as two young bear cubs, until the bluish cloud formation carried them away. Nobody knows what the truth of it was.

Perhaps Ruebezahl is just a character going through the world as a cold old bachelor. Or perhaps the young countess is really his enchanted wife. However, I’m more inclined toward another idea, that Ruebezahl had already taken the giants’ daughter to wife in ancient times, and that the Giant Mountains in all their burgeoning earth power and their springtime fruitfulness are themselves this bewitched daughter of giants, visible far across the land, rising under the bright summer sky or reclining vastly under the night stars. And that Ruebezahl, who since those times is enslaved to traveling back and forth, has to take care of the ever fruitful giantess as the male songbird cares for the brooding female.

But still we like to be able to say what kind of person has Ruebezahl’s essence, markings, and presence, such that they give the Giant Mountains world renown. And in the end, Ruebezahl’s jokes and meanness and also his outrageous marks of favor have been told about so enthusiastically that no one since the old days could have any doubts about his existence.

We’ll relate nine stories about Ruebezahl, just nine. Since Ruebezahl is old as the source of the mountains, we’ll begin with his toothless childhood and must cease telling with his toothless old age. Yet we have but chattered, as the waves chatter that must prattle their tales for all eternity.

i) I'm so glad to read these more recent elaborate posts because I knew of Rubezahl only from Alois Jirasek's Old Czech Legends (Unesco Collection of Representative Works. European Series), a book of Czech literature put out after the northern European revolutions (1849) and intended to build nationalism among the Czech-speaking people, namely the Bohemians, Moravians and Silesians. Off and on, of course, all those folks, especially the nearby Bohemians (western Czech Republic--where Prague is) were German-speaking or bilingual. When I saw Rubezahl mentioned as a Germanic character, I kept thinking I'd have a chance to look it up and see if it was the same as the Czech character I knew of (vaguely! as the "Turnip Counter") or a slightly different spelling that would be someone else entirely. I love having this much more depth of "character" for him!-
Mary Grace

j) The Brown Fairy Book (Complete and Unabridged with Original Illustrations) - by Andrew Lang
Over all the vast under-world the mountain Gnome Rubezahl was lord; and busy enough the care of his dominions kept him. There were the endless treasure chambers to be gone through, and the hosts of gnomes to be kept to their tasks. Some built strong barriers to hold back the fiery vapours to change dull stones to precious metal, or were hard at work filling every cranny of the rocks with diamonds and rubies; for Rubezahl loved all pretty things. Sometimes the fancy would take him to leave those gloomy regions, and come out upon the green earth for a while, and bask in the sunshine and hear the birds sing. And as gnomes live many hundreds of years he saw strange things. For, the first time he came up, the great hills were covered with thick forests, in which wild animals roamed, and Rubezahl watched the fierce fights between bear and bison, or chased the grey wolves, or amused himself by rolling great rocks down into the desolate valleys, to hear the thunder of their fall echoing among the hills. But the next time he ventured above ground, what was his surprise to find everything changed! The dark woods were hewn down, and in their place appeared blossoming orchards surrounding cosy-looking thatched cottages; for every chimney the blue smoke curled peacefully into the air, sheep and oxen fed in the flowery meadows, while from the shade of the hedges came the music of the shepherd's pipe. The strangeness and pleasantness of the sight so delighted the gnome that he never thought of resenting the intrusion of these unexpected guests, who, without saying 'by your leave' or 'with your leave,' had made themselves so very much at home upon is hills; nor did he wish to interfere with their doings, but left them in quiet possession of their homes, as a good householder leaves in peace the swallows who have built their nests under his eaves. He was indeed greatly minded to make friends with this being called 'man,' so, taking the form of an old field labourer, he entered the service of a farmer. Under his care all the crops flourished exceedingly, but the master proved to be wasteful and ungrateful, and Rubezahl soon left him, and went to be shepherd to his next neighbour. He tended the flock so diligently, and knew so well where to lead the sheep to the sweetest pastures, and where among the hills to look for any who strayed away, that they too prospered under his care, and not one was lost or torn by wolves; but this new master was a hard man, and begrudged him his well-earned wages. So he ran away and went to serve the judge. Here he upheld the law with might and main, and was a terror to thieves and evildoers; but the judge was a bad man, who took bribes, and despised the law. Rubezahl would not be the tool of an unjust man, and so he told his master, who thereupon ordered him to be thrown in prison. Of course that did not trouble the gnome at all, he simply got out through the keyhole, and went away down to his underground palace, very much disappointed by his first experience of mankind. But, as time went on, he forgot the disagreeable things that had happened to him, and thought he would take another look at the upper world.

So he stole into the valley, keeping himself carefully hidden in copse or hedgerow, and very soon met with an adventure; for, peeping through a screen of leaves, he saw before him a green lawn where stood a charming maiden, fresh as the spring, and beautiful to look upon. Around her upon the grass lay her young companions, as if they had thrown themselves down to rest after some merry game. Beyond them flowed a little brook, into which a waterfall leapt from a high rock, filling the air with its pleasant sound, and making a coolness even in the sultry noontide. The sight of the maiden so pleased the gnome that, for the first time, he wished himself a mortal; and, longing for a better view of the gay company, he changed himself into a raven and perched upon an oaktree which overhung the brook. But he soon found that this was not at all a good plan. He could only see with a raven's eyes, and feel as a raven feels; and a nest of field-mice at the foot of the tree interested him far more than the sport of the maidens. When he understood this he flew down again in a great hurry into the thicket, and took the form of a handsome young man--that was the best way--and he fell in love with the girl then and there. The fair maiden was the daughter of the king of the country, and she often wandered in the forest with her play fellows gathering the wild flowers and fruits, till the midday heat drove the merry band to the shady lawn by the brook to rest, or to bathe in the cool waters. On this particular morning the fancy took them to wander off again into the wood. This was Master Rubezahl's opportunity. Stepping out of his hiding-place he stood in the midst of the little lawn, weaving his magic spells, till slowly all about him changed, and when the maidens returned at noon to their favourite resting- place they stood lost in amazement, and almost fancied that they must be dreaming. The red rocks had become white marble and alabaster; the stream that murmured and struggled before in its rocky bed, flowed in silence now in its smooth channel, from which a clear fountain leapt, to fall again in showers of diamond drops, now on this side now on that, as the wandering breeze scattered it.

Daisies and forget-me-nots fringed its brink, while tall hedges of roses and jasmine ringed it round, making the sweetest and daintiest bower imaginable. To the right and left of the waterfall opened out a wonderful grotto, its walls and arches glittering with many-coloured rock-crystals, while in every niche were spread out strange fruits and sweetmeats, the very sight of which made the princess long to taste them. She hesitated a while, however, scarcely able to believe her eyes, and not knowing if she should enter the enchanted spot or fly from it. But at length curiosity prevailed, and she and her companions explored to their heart's content, and tasted and examined everything, running hither and thither in high glee, and calling merrily to each other.

At last, when they were quite weary, the princess cried out suddenly that nothing would content her but to bathe in the marble pool, which certainly did look very inviting; and they all went gaily to this new amusement. The princess was ready first, but scarcely had she slipped over the rim of the pool when down-- down--down she sank, and vanished in its depths before her frightened playmates could seize her by so much as a lock of her floating golden hair!

Loudly did they weep and wail, running about the brink of the pool, which looked so shallow and so clear, but which had swallowed up their princess before their eyes. They even sprang into the water and tried to dive after her, but in vain; they only floated like corks in the enchanted pool, and could not keep under water for a second.

They saw at last that there was nothing for it but to carry to the king the sad tidings of his beloved daughter's disappearance. And what great weeping and lamentation there was in the palace when the dreadful news was told! The king tore his robes, dashed his golden crown from his head, and hid his face in his purple mantle for grief and anguish at the loss of the princess. After the first outburst of wailing, however, he took heart and hurried off to see for himself the scene of this strange adventure, thinking, as people will in sorrow, that there might be some mistake after all. But when he reached the spot, behold, all was changed again! The glittering grotto described to him by the maidens had completely vanished, and so had the marble bath, the bower of jasmine; instead, all was a tangle of flowers, as it had been of old. The king was so much perplexed that he threatened the princess's playfellows with all sorts of punishments if they would not confess something about her disappearance; but as they only repeated the same story he presently put down the whole affair to the work of some sprite or goblin, and tried to console himself for his loss by ordering a grand hunt; for kings cannot bear to be troubled about anything long.

Meanwhile the princess was not at all unhappy in the palace of her elfish lover.

When the water-nymphs, who were hiding in readiness, had caught her and dragged her out of the sight of her terrified maidens, she herself had not had time to be frightened. They swam with her quickly by strange underground ways to a palace so splendid that her father's seemed but a poor cottage in comparison with it, and when she recovered from her astonishment she found herself seated upon a couch, wrapped in a wonderful robe of satin fastened with a silken girdle, while beside her knelt a young man who whispered the sweetest speeches imaginable in her ear. The gnome, for he it was, told her all about himself and his great underground kingdom, and presently led her through the many rooms and halls of the palace, and showed her the rare and wonderful things displayed in them till she was fairly dazzled at the sight of so much splendour. On three sides of the castle lay a lovely garden with masses of gay, sweet flowers, and velvet lawns all cool and shady, which pleased the eye of the princess. The fruit trees were hung with golden and rosy apples, and nightingales sang in every bush, as the gnome and the princess wandered in the leafy alleys, sometimes gazing at the moon, sometimes pausing to gather the rarest flowers for her adornment. And all the time he was thinking to himself that never, during the hundreds of years he had lived, had he seen so charming a maiden. But the princess felt no such happiness; in spite of all the magic delights around her she was sad, though she tried to seem content for fear of displeasing the gnome. However, he soon perceived her melancholy, and in a thousand ways strove to dispel the cloud, but in vain. At last he said to himself: 'Men are sociable creatures, like bees or ants. Doubtless this lovely mortal is pining for company. Who is there I can find for her to talk to?'

Thereupon he hastened into the nearest filed and dug up a dozen or so of different roots--carrots, turnips, and radishes--and laying them carefully in an elegant basket brought them to the princess, who sat pensive in the shade of the rose-bower.

'Loveliest daughter of earth,' said the gnome, 'banish all sorrow; no more shall you be lonely in my dwelling. In this basket is all you need to make this spot delightful to you. Take this little many-coloured wand, and with a touch give to each root the form you desire to see.'

With this he left her, and the princess, without an instant's delay, opened the basket, and touching a turnip, cried eagerly: 'Brunhilda, my dear Brunhilda! come to me quickly!' And sure enough there was Brunhilda, joyfully hugging and kissing her beloved princess, and chattering as gaily as in the old days.

This sudden appearance was so delightful that the princess could hardly believe her own eyes, and was quite beside herself with the joy of having her dear playfellow with her once more. Hand in hand they wandered about the enchanted garden, and gathered the golden apples from the trees, and when they were tired of this amusement the princess led her friend through all the wonderful rooms of the palace, until at last they came to the one in which were kept all the marvellous dresses and ornaments the gnome had given to his hoped-for bride. There they found so much to amuse them that the hours passed like minutes. Veils, girdles, and necklaces were tried on and admired, the imitation Brunhilda knew so well how to behave herself, and showed so much taste that nobody would ever have suspected that she was nothing but a turnip after all. The gnome, who had secretly been keeping an eye upon them, was very pleased with himself for having so well understood the heart of a woman; and the princess seemed to him even more charming than before. She did not forget to touch the rest of the roots with her magic wand, and soon had all her maidens about her, and even, as she had two tiny radishes to spare, her favourite cat, and her little dog whose name was Beni.

And now all went cheerfully in the castle. The princess gave to each of the maidens her task, and never was mistress better served. For a whole week she enjoyed the delight of her pleasant company undisturbed. They all sang, they danced, they played from morning to night; only the princess noticed that day by day the fresh young faces of her maidens grew pale and wan, and the mirror in the great marble hall showed her that she alone still kept her rosy bloom, while Brunhilda and the rest faded visibly. They assured her that all was well with them; but, nevertheless, they continued to waste away, and day by day it became harder to them to take part in the games of the princess, till at last, one fine morning, when the princess started from bed and hastened out to join her gay playfellows, she shuddered and started back at the sight of a group of shrivelled crones, with bent backs and trembling limbs, who supported their tottering steps with staves and crutches, and coughed dismally. A little nearer to the hearth lay the once frolicsome Beni, with all four feet stretched stiffly out, while the sleek cat seemed too weak to raise his head from his velvet cushion.

The horrified princess fled to the door to escape from the sight of this mournful company, and called loudly for the gnome, who appeared at once, humbly anxious to do her bidding.

'Malicious Sprite,' she cried, 'why do you begrudge me my playmates --the greatest delight of my lonely hours? Isn't this solitary life in such a desert bad enough without your turning the castle into a hospital for the aged? Give my maidens back their youth and health this very minute, or I will never love you!'

'Sweetest and fairest of damsels,' cried the gnome, 'do not be angry; everything that is in my power I will do--but do not ask the impossible. So long as the sap was fresh in the roots the magic staff could keep them in the forms you desired, but as the sap dried up they withered away. But never trouble yourself about that, dearest one, a basket of fresh turnips will soon set matters right, and you can speedily call up again every form you wish to see. The great green patch in the garden will prove you with a more lively company.'

So saying the gnome took himself off. And the princess with her magic wand touched the wrinkled old women, and left them the withered roots they really were, to be thrown upon the rubbish heap; and with light feet skipped off across to the meadow to take possession of the freshly filled basket. But to her surprise she could not find it anywhere. Up and down the garden she searched, spying into every corner, but not a sign of it was to be found. By the trellis of grape vines she met the gnome, who was so much embarrassed at the sight of her that she became aware of his confusion while he was still quite a long way off.

'You are trying to tease me,' she cried, as soon as she saw him. 'Where have you hidden the basket? I have been looking for it at least an hour.'

'Dear queen of my heart,' answered he, 'I pray you to forgive my carelessness. I promised more than I could perform. I have sought all over the land for the roots you desire; but they are gathered in, and lie drying in musty cellars, and the fields are bare and desolate, for below in the valley winter reigns, only here in your presence spring is held fast, and wherever your foot is set the gay flowers bloom. Have patience for a little, and then without fail you shall have your puppets to play with.'

Almost before the gnome had finished, the disappointed princess turned away, and marched off to her own apartments, without deigning to answer him.

The gnome, however, set off above ground as speedily as possible, and disguising himself as a farmer, bought an ass in the nearest market-town, and brought it back loaded with sacks of turnip, carrot, and radish seed. With this he sowed a great field, and sent a vast army of his goblins to watch and tend it, and to bring up the fiery rivers from the heart of the earth near enough to warm and encourage the sprouting seeds. Thus fostered they grew and flourished marvellously, and promised a goodly crop.

The princess wandered about the field day by day, no other plants or fruits in all her wonderful garden pleased her as much as these roots; but still her eyes were full of discontent. And, best of all, she loved to while away the hours in a shady fir- wood, seated upon the bank of a little stream, into which she would cast the flowers she had gathered and watch them float away.

The gnome tried hard by every means in his power to please the princess and win her love, but little did he guess the real reason of his lack of success. He imagined that she was too young and inexperienced to care for him; but that was a mistake, for the truth was that another image already filled her heart. The young Prince Ratibor, whose lands joined her father's, had won the heart of the princess; and the lovers had been looking forward to the coming of their wedding-day when the bride's mysterious disappearance took place. The sad news drove Ratibor distracted, and as the days went on, and nothing could be heard of the princess, he forsook his castle and the society of men, and spent his days in the wild forests, roaming about and crying her name aloud to the trees and rocks. Meanwhile, the maiden, in her gorgeous prison, sighed in secret over her grief, not wishing to arouse the gnome's suspicions. In her own mind she was wondering if by any means she might escape from her captivity, and at last she hit upon a plan.

By this time spring once more reigned in the valley, and the gnome sent the fires back to their places in the deeps of the earth, for the roots which they had kept warm through all the cruel winter hand now come to their full size. Day by day the princess pulled up some of them, and made experiments with them, conjuring up now this longed-for person, and now that, just for the pleasure of seeing them as they appeared; but she really had another purpose in view.

One day she changed a tiny turnip into a bee, and sent him off to bring her some news of her lover.

'Fly, dear little bee, towards the east,' said she, 'to my beloved Ratibor, and softly hum into his ear that I love him only, but that I am a captive in the gnome's palace under the mountains. Do not forget a single word of my greeting, and bring me back a message from my beloved.'

So the bee spread his shining wings and flew away to do as he was bidden; but before he was out of sight a greedy swallow made a snatch at him, and to the great grief of the princess her messenger was eaten up then and there.

After that, by the power of the wonderful wand she summoned a cricket, and taught him this greeting:

'Hop, little cricket, to Ratibor, and chirp in his ear that I love him only, but that I am held captive by the gnome in his palace under the mountains.'

So the cricket hopped off gaily, determined to do his best to deliver his message; but, alas! a long-legged stork who was prancing along the same road caught him in her cruel beak, and before he could say a word he had disappeared down her throat.

These two unlucky ventures did not prevent the princess from trying once more.

This time she changed the turnip into a magpie.

'Flutter from tree to tree, chattering bird,' said she, 'till you come to Ratibor, my love. Tell him that I am a captive, and bid him come with horses and men, the third day from this, to the hill that rises from the Thorny Valley.'

The magpie listened, hopped awhile from branch to branch, and then darted away, the princess watching him anxiously as far as she could see.

Now Prince Ratibor was still spending his life in wandering about the woods, and not even the beauty of the spring could soothe his grief.

One day, as he sat in the shade of an oak tree, dreaming of his lost princess, and sometimes crying her name aloud, he seemed to hear another voice reply to his, and, starting up, he gazed around him, but he could see no one, and he had just made up his mind that he must be mistaken, when the same voice called again, and, looking up sharply, he saw a magpie which hopped to and fro among the twigs. Then Ratibor heard with surprise that the bird was indeed calling him by name.

'Poor chatterpie,' said he; 'who taught you to say that name, which belongs to an unlucky mortal who wishes the earth would open and swallow up him and his memory for ever?'

Thereupon he caught up a great stone, and would have hurled it at the magpie, if it had not at that moment uttered the name of the princess.

This was so unexpected that the prince's arm fell helplessly to his side at the sound, and he stood motionless.

But the magpie in the tree, who, like all the rest of his family, was not happy unless he could be for ever chattering, began to repeat the message the princess had taught him; and as soon as he understood it, Prince Ratibor's heart was filed with joy. All his gloom and misery vanished in a moment, and he anxiously questioned the welcome messenger as to the fate of the princess.

But the magpie knew no more than the lesson he had learnt, so he soon fluttered away; while the prince hurried back to his castle to gather together a troop of horsemen, full of courage for whatever might befall.

The princess meanwhile was craftily pursuing her plan of escape. She left off treating the gnome with coldness and indifference; indeed, there was a look in her eyes which encouraged him to hope that she might some day return his love, and the idea pleased him mightily. The next day, as soon as the sun rose, she made her appearance decked as a bride, in the wonderful robes and jewels which the fond gnome had prepared for her. Her golden hair was braided and crowned with myrtle blossoms, and her flowing veil sparkled with gems. In these magnificent garments she went to meet the gnome upon the great terrace.

'Loveliest of maidens,' he stammered, bowing low before her, 'let me gaze into your dear eyes, and read in them that you will no longer refuse my love, but will make me the happiest being the sun shines upon.'

So saying he would have drawn aside her veil; but the princess only held it more closely about her.

'Your constancy has overcome me,' she said; 'I can no longer oppose your wishes. But believe my words, and suffer this veil still to hide my blushes and tears.'

'Why tears, beloved one?' cried the gnome anxiously; 'every tear of yours falls upon my heart like a drop of molten gold. Greatly as I desire your love, I do not ask a sacrifice.'

'Ah!' cried the false princess, 'why do you misunderstand my tears? My heart answers to your tenderness, and yet I am fearful. A wife cannot always charm, and though you will never alter, the beauty of mortals is as a flower that fades. How can I be sure that you will always be as loving and charming as you are now?'

'Ask some proof, sweetheart,' said he. 'Put my obedience and my patience to some test by which you can judge of my unalterable love.'

'Be it so,' answered the crafty maiden. 'Then give me just one proof of your goodness. Go! count the turnips in yonder meadow. My wedding feast must not lack guests. They shall provide me with bride-maidens too. But beware lest you deceive me, and do not miss a single one. That shall be the test of your truth towards me.'

Unwilling as the gnome was to lose sight of his beautiful bride for a moment, he obeyed her commands without delay, and hurried off to begin his task. He skipped along among the turnips as nimble as a grasshopper, and had soon counted them all; but, to be quite certain that he had made no mistake, he thought he would just run over them again. This time, to his great annoyance, the number was different; so he reckoned them for the third time, but now the number was not the same as either of the previous ones! And this was hardly to be wondered at, as his mind was full of the princess's pretty looks and words.

As for the maiden, no sooner was her deluded lover fairly out of sight than she began to prepare for flight. She had a fine fresh turnip hidden close at hand, which she changed into a spirited horse, all saddled and bridled, and, springing upon its back, she galloped away over hill and dale till she reached the Thorny Valley, and flung herself into the arms of her beloved Prince Ratibor.

Meanwhile the toiling gnome went through his task over and over again till his back ached and his head swam, and he could no longer put two and two together; but as he felt tolerably certain of the exact number of turnips in the field, big and little together, he hurried back eager to prove to his beloved one what a delightful and submissive husband he would be. He felt very well satisfied with himself as he crossed the mossy lawn to the place where he had left her; but, alas! she was no longer there.

He searched every thicket and path, he looked behind every tree, and gazed into every pond, but without success; then he hastened into the palace and rushed from room to room, peering into every hole and corner and calling her by name; but only echo answered in the marble halls--there was neither voice nor footstep.

Then he began to perceive that something was amiss, and, throwing off the mortal form that encumbered him, he flew out of the palace, and soared high into the air, and saw the fugitive princess in the far distance just as the swift horse carried her across the boundary of his dominions.

Furiously did the enraged gnome fling two great clouds together, and hurl a thunderbolt after the flying maiden, splintering the rocky barriers which had stood a thousand years. But his fury was vain, the thunderclouds melted away into a soft mist, and the gnome, after flying about for a while in despair, bewailing to the four winds his unhappy fate, went sorrowfully back to the palace, and stole once more through every room, with many sighs and lamentations. He passed through the gardens which for him had lost their charm, and the sight of the princess's footprints on the golden sand of the pathway renewed his grief. All was lonely, empty, sorrowful; and the forsaken gnome resolved that he would have no more dealings with such false creatures as he had found men to be.

Thereupon he stamped three times upon the earth, and the magic palace, with all its treasures, vanished away into the nothingness out of which he had called it; and the gnome fled once more to the depths of his underground kingdom.

While all this was happening, Prince Ratibor was hurrying away with his prize to a place of safety. With great pomp and triumph he restored the lovely princess to her father, and was then and there married to her, and took her back with him to his own castle.

But long after she was dead, and her children too, the villagers would tell the tale of her imprisonment underground, as they sat carving wood in the winter nights.
[Volksmahrchen der Deutschen.]

Article #927 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-28-2003
Posting Date: 2-25-2004
Directed by Paul Wegener and Rochus Gliese
Featuring Paul Wegener, Lydia Salmonova, Arthur Ehrens

A giant becomes enamored with an elf, and tries to win her hand in marriage.

I'm guessing a little on the plot, as the title cards on this movie are in German, and given the fact that my print seems to be fairly well down the line on the dupe heirarchy, they are also hard to read. However, it looks like a fairly fun comic fantasy. The fantasy elements are quite strong; Rubezahl is obviously a giant, and there are several scenes of him towering over a mountainous landscape; there is also a witch involved, and a unicorn pops up at one point. I can only hope that someday these forgotten silent movies can be given proper restorations and translated subtitles so that there are aren't so many obstacles to my enjoyment of them.

3) Painting of Rubezahl
Artist: Zdrasila, Adolf (Poruba, 1868 - Troppau, Silesia, 1942)
Date: 1908
Medium: Original Wood Engraving
Publisher: Vervielfaltigende Kunst, Vienna
Note: Adolf Zdrasila (Zdrazila): An important twentieth century Silesian painter and printmaker, Adolf Zdrasila studied art at the Academy of Vienna and in Karlsruhe, as a pupil of Kalkreuth. After completing his studies, Zdrasila spent several years in Munich and became a member of the Munich Secession. Upon his return to Silesia, Adolf Zdrasila worked extensively for Edmund Wilhelm Braun, the Director of the Museum of Arts and Crafts, Troppau. In this capacity he created murals for buildings such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Troppau, and the church at Taschendorf. Today examples of his fine art are included in the Provincial Museum of Troppau and the Municipal Museum of Vienna.
  Zdrasila's most famous artistic creations, however, were in the field of the woodcut. A master of both landscapes and figure studies his woodcuts in colour and black and white were extensively exhibited in Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Rubezahl was created for the Viennese publisher, Vervielfaltigende Kunst, in 1908. Zdrasila contributed at least two original woodcuts to this publisher during this decade. This brilliant woodcut portrays Rubezahl, a major figure of Silesian folklore.
  Vervielfaltigende Kunst: During the early twentieth century leading art journals around the world published original etchings, lithographs and woodcuts on a regular basis. Some of the greatest prints from this vital era were commissioned and published by The Studio, in London, Pan, in Germany, The Print Connoisseur, in America and Vervielfaltigende Kunst, in Vienna.
  Vervielfaltigende Kunst issued it first original etching in 1871. During the following sixty years it published masterworks by Austrian, German, Czech, Swiss, French, Dutch and English artists. More internationally focused and less conservative than most of its rival publishers, Vervielfaltigende Kunst became a spearhead for the vibrant experiments of Symbolist, Expressionist and Secessionist artists during the initial decades of the twentieth century. Also, it superb printing techniques were second to none. As a result, Vervielfaltigende Kunst is now regarded as a most vital fine art publisher of its day and individual prints from this publication are eagerly sought after on the international market.
Image Size: 6 X 7 1/2 (Sizes in inches are approximate, height preceding width of plate-mark or image.)
  Matted with 100% Archival Materials
Price: $195.00 US
Condition: Printed on white wove paper and with large margins as commissioned and published by Vervielfaltigende Kunst in 1908. Bearing the publisher's address, title and the printed words, "Original Holzschnitt (Woodcut)" along the lower margin. Signed with the artist's monogramme within the block to the lower left. A finely printed impression and in very good condition throughout. Altogether, Rubezahl represents a fine, original example of the art of J. G. Veldheer, one of Silesia's great twentieth century artists.

4) Rubezahl
Land of Origin: Germany.
Other Origins: Eastern Europe.
Other Names: Hey-Hey Men, Hoioimann, He-Manner, Ropenkerl, Huamann, Schlocherl, Rubheyzahl.
Element: Air.
Appearance and Temperament:
They are male dwarf faeries in short black cloaks who each carry a thin, spiky walking stick. They are mean to human travelers. They wear loarge cloaks which hide their faces and seem to not want humans to know just what they look like. Because of this it is believed that they cannot shapeshift.
Time Most Active: All year.
The Rubezahl (Roo-bee-zahl) was once credited with being able to summon the wind or the rain, if only for a brief time. They would bring whichever one would most annoy a human traveler in their woods. If the human had no water they would summon a hot sun, and if he or she had no shelter they would sommon a cold rain. They like to yell confusing noises so that travelers lose their way. They make their homes in the mountains.

Where to Find Them: In the German and Eastern European mountains and dense woodlands, and near little-used roads.
How to Contact: Contact not advised!
Magickal and Ritual Help: None.

5) Rubezahl - (Germany) from Santa Legends and Folklore
"The watcher of the woods"
He would watch over children who entered the woods, keeping them from getting lost and safe from harm. All year long he would make presents which he would pack into his sack at Christmas time and deliver to the children.
© Copyright 1986 - 2001 Mountain Elves


I just noticed reading through your page that people were confused about finding information or maybe not enough information on the Rubezahl, watcher of the woods–Santa connection.  Since I made him up—well, twisted him around a bit, solely to use with my dolls, you probably won't find much more information. The closest  I could ever find Rubezahl getting to Santa in German folklore is following him, and while Santa rewards the good, he chases the bad kids around terrorizing them. My friend from Germany told me that some folklore from these little German villages really varied and one reason could have been the villages were really spread apart. You sort of had you own little niche.  I believe Rubezahl was used as leverage to help keep children in line and since the villages were spread out, each village had their on "take on Rubezahl." Thanks for responding, you are welcome to share any part of my email with your group if you think it would help.
Patty McCarty

Santa doll
Stands 24" tall The German word "Rubezahl" roughly translates to Watcher of the Woods.  With his bag of gifts in one hand, he holds a vine in the other and a small Owl is perched on his hand. This Santa is watching over a mother Fox and her Kit. This Santa is always dressed in a faux fur outer robe, but the color will vary from white to black always in natural colors.

We dress in coat colors that are of natural color from light beige to deep browns but colors may vary from what is pictured.

7) Excerpt from "The Journey on a Stormy Cloud"
"EPISODE 2 Czech Republic. Rubezahl and his underground kingdom full of turnips is the place where the dwarfs look for the first ingredient of the elixir: an ogre`s hair. It turns out that the ogre they meet is in fact bold and wears a wig. Babooyaga however, comes up with a solution: after using some of the Rubezahl`s turnip juice the hair starts to grow on the ogre`s head! A hair can be used as a shoe-string and just one step with such shoes means making seven miles!"

Earth - Faeries have an association with the earth and nature. They are often described as living underground and within the earth in many tales all over the world. The Germanic tale of Rubezahl describes this kind of nature spirit known as a gnome."

8) Gnome definition
"A race of small beings that live underground. According to Paracelsus, gnomes are the most important of the earth spirits. He wrote that they move as easily through the earth as humans walk upon the ground. The sun's rays turn them into stone. Some sources say they spend the day as a toad. Gnomes appear in the German fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. In fairy tales, the mountain gnome Rubezahl was lord over the underworld. A kaukis is a Prussian gnome."

9) This is a very belated response to this thread. My husband and I translated the introduction to Hauptmann's book of Reubezahl stories and posted it to the list in December of 2000. I'm dismayed to discover it was more than 4 years ago!! I had very good intentions of translating the rest of the stories also, but life has repeatedly intervened. I'd still like to get back to it. It's fascinating stuff. The German is archaic and tricky to translate but I enjoyed doing it. Maybe in 2005.
Kathleen M. 2004

10) I got a wood carving of Rubezahl in Rotenberg ab der Tauber in 1988. It is a man in a grey cape carrying a carrot. I did some research and found in the university library a little book by Musaus, "Legenden von Rubezahl", which is in German and has some nice etchings. I later found a book in English that appears to be a direct translation "Legends of Number Nip", by Mark Lemon, London, Macmillan, 1864. They both are now found on the web easily.
Riley Gordinier 5/20/09

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Created 2005; last update 8/14/09

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