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Friday, May 14, 2010

An Ancient Tribe of Swiss Gnomes called the Gotwergeni

Life on the land can be quite hectic in springtime.
(Click on picture to enlarge.)

For people living close to the land, spring is a busy time and there are never enough helping hands to accomplish all the chores. In this saga lucky farmers in Switzerland are helped by a strange tribe of gnomes until scorn drives the creatures away. Another testimony to the hubris of mortals and a reminder to all gardeners to treat gnomes kindly.

In ancient times the Gotwergeni or gnomes were also at home in the Saas Valley region of Switzerland. In caves and cliffs they made their secret dwellings, where they practiced their peaceful arts and pursued their strange existence. This shy folk eschewed the light of day.

To good people they were known as helpers when there was hard work or distress or danger. They tended the cattle at night, watched over a sick animal in the stall, did their work in the fields of corn or hay when everyone else was sleeping and made sure misfortune did not visit the sleeper. But they were quiet and timid around the houses of godless men.

On starry nights they held their merry meetings on lonely boulders or in a quiet clearing in the larch forest.

But ungratefulness and malice took over the hearts of men and the Gotwergeni departed from the Saas Valley and settled in the crags and cliffs of Zeneggen. And when the people of the Zenegg savagely drove them off, the gnome folk left the region for ever.

Today there is a Gotwergeni grave at Mellig above the Hannig Alps which still reminds us of this lively little folk.

Behind Zermeiggern, the last continuously settled area of the Sass Valley, on the path to the Mattmark Lake, a rock slide ravaged the area in ancient times. A giant sea of boulders remains, today called the ABC-Gufer (gravel pile), and reminds the hiker of this avalanche. There is a Gotwergeni hole in the gravel, which once served the gnomes as dwelling.



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