What is a gnome?
Licensed under Creative Commons
The word "gnome" was used to describe this mythic creature by natural philosopher Paracelsus and is never used in original myths concerning this creature. The name gnome is derived from the Latin "genomus" meaning earth-dweller. Gnomes are often described as being similar to goblins or dwarves. Goblins are tasked with the protection of the earth's treasures, such as precious metals and jewels. Similar mythical creatures include leprechauns, the ancient Egyptian god Geb, and the Indian mythical divinity, Kubera. Leprechauns are similar to gnomes in the fact that leprechauns protect gold from human greed. The Egyptian god Geb was the god of the earth and is described as being short in stature. Kubera from Indian mythos guards the earth's treasures and is also described as being of short stature. There must be a correlation between protecting the earth's treasures and being short.
Legends consider gnomes to be protectors of the classical elements of air, fire, water, and most importantly earth. Gnomes are described as protecting the treasures of the earth from humans. Gnomes live underground and legend states that they can easily move through the earth. Gnomes are always describes as being small and wearing conical hats. Myths claim that gnomes are sensitive to sunlight and some legends remark that the light of the Sun will turn a gnome into stone.