Monster Monday: Kobold

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Kobold.

Illustration of a kobold by Willy Pogány
Illustration of a kobold by Willy Pogány

In German folklore, a kobold is generally regarded as a house spirit. Kobolds are usually invisible, but they may appear in the form of an animal, fire, a candle, or a human. If a kobold appears as a human, it is usually seen as a small, wrinkled old man dressed in a peasant’s clothes.

If a kobold is treated well, it will help with the household chores, making sure dishes are clean, the floors are swept, the laundry is done, and the clothes are mended. It can even find lost things. Sometimes, it gives its hosts gifts, but people should be wary of gifts from kobolds because many times they steal these gifts from neighbors. It generally prefers the area around the hearth of a home, but in larger households, it may even have its own room. In return, it asks for only a little food and beer each day to be left out for it.

However, if neglected or insulted, a kobold can become malevolent and vindictive, going so far as to kill those who insult it in gruesome ways.

Kobolds are also associated with mines and miners. Like the household version, they can be helpful if treated well. They knock on the mine walls to warn of danger or to indicate where good veins of ore are located. But, if neglected or mistreated, they can steal tools or even cause cave-ins.

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