Dwarfs in literature

1. Anonymous sermon dated back to XV century reveals the forbidden cult of “uboże”

“There exist people who deliberately don’t wash bowls after eating celebratory dinner on Maundy Thursday the reason being to feed souls and other spirits which are called ‘uboże’. These people stupidly believe that ghosts need material things. Some of them leave food leftovers on purpose because they believe that some souls or a demon called ‘uboże’ will feast on them. These beliefs are nothing but a joke, because these daft and reckless people think that the leftovers they gave to the ghosts are eaten by above-cited ‘uboże’ (the spirit which they pamper to bring them good luck). The truth is that when they do not notice it, a dog comes and eats these remains without being seen.”

2. „Kronika Polska, Litewska, Żmudzka” (Chronicle of Poland, Lithuania and Samogitia) by Maciej Stryjowski, Publisher in 1582:

„On Pomerania, next to Chojnice and Toruń, local people believe that some underground bizarre creatures live under the berk trees. These creatures are believed to be ghosts or other fantastic figures and are called lovely red people . People say they are no more than a cubit long.”

3. „Officina Ferraria” by Walenty Roździeński from 1612. The fragment is entitled „Uboża albo duchowie kuźniczni”  (Uboża or blacksmith’s ghosts) Above-cited fragment tells the story of some ghosts who help the blacksmith.

„There were some ghosts in forges long time ago,
They used to come there content on Saturdays,
At night, after workers already left to houses.
Blacksmiths usually called them uboże,
They kept them and considered holy (…)”

They were so small as children. They used to work at night but when the cock crowned, they were immediately gone. Blacksmiths were leaving them food in forges and the ghosts were bringing them luck in ironwork as well as in other matters. Once a blacksmith, called Cat, saw that uboże worked barefoot, in shirts only and he felt pity for them. He left them some clothes in the kitchen. The ghosts abandoned him immediately because they felt offended by the host.

„(…) This is how you, Spectrum, and it, uboże,
Were made lo leave in fear the Cat’s forge”

4. „Wesele krasnoludków” (Wedding of the dwarfs) in  „Pamiętniki” (Diaries) by Jan Chryzostom Pasek from 1659.

„These devil creatures are made servants everywhere in Swedish and Danish Kingdom as well as in Turkey, where they are forced to do all kinds of work they are told to and they are called spiritus familiares.

1 While Rej was travelling to Sweden as a member of parliament, his most loved coachmen got ill and Rej had to leave him at a familiar nobleman. He intended to pick the coachmen up on the way home. The ill coachmen was lying in the empty room. When the fever left his body, he started hearing beautiful sounds of music. He wasn’t surprised because he thought that the music comes from some other parts of the house. Suddenly, a tiny creature dressed from head to toe2 jumped out from a mice hole and the second and third one jumped after him, not to mention the following ladies. The music got louder and tiny creatures started to dance in the room. The coachman was completely terrified. After that the creatures started to leave the room in pairs. As the music started to follow them, the young bride followed them as well. They went out through the door not even noticing him. The man was almost dead from fear. After a while a small creature came back and said to the man: ‘Don’t feel disturbed by what you see here. You are completely safe. We are the guardian home spirits. Today we have a wedding: a brother of ours is getting married so we are heading there but we will be coming back the same track so we will eagerly celebrate with you as well – be our guest.’3The man didn’t want to watch at the spectaculum 4 , so he stood up and locked up the door hoping that they won’t enter the room on the way back. However, the spirits came back after the wedding and were surprised to find the door locked. The music was getting louder and louder. Suddenly, a small creature found his way under the door and came in. He looked at the man angrily and turned into a tall man. He unlocked the door and let the group in. The wedding participants crossed the room and disappeared in the mice hole again. After an hour a small creature came out of the mice hole to bring the ill man a sweet pie with raisins5 and said: ‘The groom sends you this so you could also have some fun’6. The coachman took the pie and put it next to his bed but he was totally scared. The doctor and others who came to look after the coachman were very surprised when they saw the meal. ‘Who did it give you?’, they asked. The coachman told them the whole story and they replied: ‘Don’t you dare showing such ignorance! Don’t be afraid, this is tasty food  and the creatures are our small friends. Eat the meal, don’t be scared!’. But the man didn’t want to taste the sweets. So they took the sweet pie and started eating it. They said: ‘We often eat their food and we don’t get sick’. Those people, there, use help of  the small creatures in housework and other services.

1 „home spirits”; (familiares can also mean „kind-hearted”, „domestic”). According to Rosznecki, in Scandinavia people used to believe in guardian spirits, so called nisser, kind-hearted and helpful ghosts
2 formally and nicely dressed
3 participant
4 spectaculum – show, dry jam
6 delicious food given at the end of the celebration (in Polish “wety”)

Source: Jan Chryzostom Pasek, Pamiętniki, tom 1, Ossolineum, DeAgostini, Wrocław 2003, pages 85–87

5. „Wykład katechizmu Kościoła krześcijańskiego” (The lecture of Christian Church’s catechism) by Gilowski from 1579: „People have experienced a lot as there exist skryatkowie and ubożęta spirits as well as forest satyrs(…)”Source: A. Bruckner, Mitologia polska, Warszawa 1924, p. 114

6. „Spitamegeranomachia” by Jan Achacy Kita from 1595 confirms one of the hypotheses that dwarfs originally come from Pygmies, who inhabited India long time ago“There is a Eastern land called India,Where the small Pygmies live (…)”

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