A kobold is a small, goblin-like spirit who can be both
helpful and mischievous. He often helps with household chores,
but sometimes hides tools and implements. His favorite prank
is to kick over stooping people.
He can get very angry if he is not fed properly. He also
loves to sing to children. There is an expression "to laugh
like a kobold" because they are often pictured with their
mouth open laughing.
Some kobolds are believed to be spirits dwelling in caves
and mines. Other kobolds have specific names, like Hodeken or
The name of the color Cobalt Blue comes from the kobold.
Miners blamed the tricky kobold for accidents in the mines.
They also accused the
malicious goblin of stealing precious silver and leaving
behind worthless rock that looked as though it contained metal
but didn't. They mockingly called the false ore Kobold.
The name stuck even when the stone was found to be useful as,
among other things, a blue pigment.
Kobolds can be found in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden
and Switzerland. The word kobold comes from the German
word kobalt or kobold meaning "evil spirit", and
is often translated in English as goblin. Kobold is often used
in German to translate the word 'Leprechaun', a type of Irish
It is possible to catch a kobold spirit by going into the
woods at midsummer and finding a bird on an anthill. This will
be the kobold in disguise. You will then have to talk to the
bird and when you lulled him to a false sense of security,
catch him and put him in a bag to carry him home.
As mine fairies, they take pleasure in frustrating miners'
work. If they are neglected or insulted, they become
malignant, however, they will sometimes take a particular
miner under their wings and direct him to a rich seam of ore.
In centuries past if a man was seen to find more seams or
possess more skills than his fellow miners, it was said that
he was "under the protection of kobolds".
Kobolds in the home are very loyal if they feel wanted and
welcome. Some kobolds will follow a favorite family to a new
home. When the kobold first settles into a home, he tests the
disposition of the family by bringing saw-dust into the house,
and throwing dirt into the milk vessels. If the master of the
house takes care that the chips are not scattered about, and
that the dirt is left in the vessels, and the milk drunk out
of them, the kobold will stay in the house as long as there is
one of the family alive.
Kobolds are usually depicted as very ugly beings; around
two feet tall (60 cm), with dark green or grey skin. They also
have hairy feet instead of hands. They wear conical shaped
hats, pointed shoes, and dress in red or green. Mine kobolds
are more similar in appearance to the gnome.
Variants: kobolde, kobalt,
koblernigh (welsh), coblynau (welsh).