Nutcracker doll

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Display of nutcracker dolls Nutcrackers.jpg
Display of nutcracker dolls
Collection of fairy tale nutcrackers NutcrackerCollection.JPG
Collection of fairy tale nutcrackers

Nutcracker dolls, also known as Christmas nutcrackers, are decorative nutcracker figurines most commonly made to resemble a toy soldier. In German tradition, the dolls are symbols of good luck, frightening away malevolent spirits. [1] [2] While nearly all nutcrackers from before the first half of the 20th century are functional, a significant proportion of modern nutcrackers are primarily decorative, and not able to crack nuts. [3] [4] Nutcrackers are also a part of German folklore, serving as protectors of a house.

Nutcracker mechanical device for cracking nuts

A nutcracker is a tool designed to open nuts by cracking their shells. There are many designs, including levers, screws, and ratchets. A well-known type portrays a person whose mouth forms the jaws of the nutcracker, though many of these are meant for decoration.

Toy soldier miniature figurine that represents a soldier

A toy soldier is a miniature figurine that represents a soldier. The term applies to depictions of uniformed military personnel from all eras, and includes knights, cowboys, pirates, samurai, and other subjects that involve combat-related themes. Toy soldiers vary from simple playthings to highly realistic and detailed models. The latter are of more recent development and are sometimes called model figures to distinguish them from traditional toy soldiers. Larger scale toys such as dolls and action figures may come in military uniforms, but they are not generally considered toy soldiers.

Contents

History

Original nutcracker dolls from Nussknacker Museum in Neuhausen, Saxony Nussknackermuseum 002.jpg
Original nutcracker dolls from Nussknacker Museum in Neuhausen, Saxony

Nutcracker dolls originate from late-17th century Germany, particularly the Ore Mountains (German: Erzgebirge) region. [1] One origin story attributes the creation of the first nutcracker doll to a craftsman from Seiffen. [2] They were often given as gifts, and at some point they became associated with Christmas season. They grew in popularity around the 19th century and spread to nearby European countries. [1] As the demand grew, nutcracker doll production also began on a mass scale in factories. [1] Friedrich Wilhelm Füchtner  [ de ] (1844–1923), commonly known in Germany as "father of the nutcracker", began the first mass production of the design (using a lathe) at his workshop in Seiffen in Saxony during 1872. [5] [6] [7] [8]

Ore Mountains low mountain range in central Europe

The Ore Mountains or Ore Mountain Range in Central Europe have formed a natural border between Saxony and Bohemia for around 800 years, from the 12th to the 20th centuries. Today, the border between Germany and the Czech Republic runs just north of the main crest of the mountain range. The highest peaks are the Klínovec, which rises to 1,244 metres (4,081 ft) above sea level and the Fichtelberg.

Seiffen Place in Saxony, Germany

The town of Seiffen is located in the district of Erzgebirgskreis, which is in the central south of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. The earliest record of the town dates to 1324 when it was referred to as "Cynsifen".

Christmas holiday originating in Christianity, usually celebrated on December 25 (in the Gregorian or Julian calendars)

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it.

Decorative nutcracker dolls began being popularized outside of Europe after the Second World War, when numerous American soldiers stationed in Germany came home to the United States with German nutcrackers as souvenirs. [1] [2] Further popularization came from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker , a ballet adaptation of E. T. A. Hoffmann's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King , which featured a toy soldier nutcracker. [1] The ballet, introduced to America during the mid-20th century, became a favorite holiday tradition across the United States [1] and helped make nutcracker dolls a Christmas decoration and a seasonal icon across Western culture. [2] [1]

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Russian composer

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer of the romantic period, whose works are among the most popular music in the classical repertoire. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, bolstered by his appearances as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States. He was honored in 1884 by Emperor Alexander III, and awarded a lifetime pension.

<i>The Nutcracker</i> Tchaikovsky ballet

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King".

E. T. A. Hoffmann German Romantic author

Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann was a German Romantic author of fantasy and Gothic horror, a jurist, composer, music critic and artist. His stories form the basis of Jacques Offenbach's opera The Tales of Hoffmann, in which Hoffmann appears as the hero. He is also the author of the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, on which Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is based. The ballet Coppélia is based on two other stories that Hoffmann wrote, while Schumann's Kreisleriana is based on Hoffmann's character Johannes Kreisler.

Design

An average handcrafted nutcracker doll is made out of about 60 separate pieces. [2] Nutcracker dolls traditionally resemble toy soldiers, and are often painted in bright colors. [1] Different designs proliferated early; by the early 19th century there were ones dressed as miners, policemen, royalty or soldiers from different armies. [2] More recent variations have been made to resemble various pop-culture or historical figurines, from Benjamin Franklin to Operation Desert Storm-uniform American soldiers. [1] [2]

Benjamin Franklin American polymath and a Founding Father of the United States

Benjamin Franklin was an American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading writer, printer, political philosopher, politician, Freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He founded many civic organizations, including the Library Company, Philadelphia's first fire department and the University of Pennsylvania.

Gulf War 1990–1991 war between Iraq and Coalition Forces

The Gulf War, codenamed Operation Desert Shield for operations leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Storm in its combat phase, was a war waged by coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait arising from oil pricing and production disputes. The war is also known under other names, such as the Persian Gulf War, First Gulf War, Gulf War I, Kuwait War, First Iraq War or Iraq War, before the term "Iraq War" became identified instead with the post-2003 Iraq War. The war has also earned the nickname Video Game War after the daily broadcast of images from cameras on board US bombers during Operation Desert Storm.

See also

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A nutcracker is a tool for cracking nuts.

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The Nutcracker and the Mouse King literary work

"The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" is a story written in 1816 by Prussian author E. T. A. Hoffmann, in which young Marie Stahlbaum's favourite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical kingdom populated by dolls. In 1892, the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov turned Alexandre Dumas's adaptation of the story into the ballet The Nutcracker.

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Ore Mountain Toy Museum, Seiffen

The Ore Mountain Toy Museum in Seiffen is an internationally known museum of Ore Mountain toys and Ore Mountain folk art. It was opened in 1953 in Seiffen. In 1973 it was joined by the Ore Mountains Open-Air Museum, a folk art and local historic museum with 14 houses typical of the Ore Mountains before 1900 on the edge of the toy village.

Ore Mountain folk art folk art

Ore Mountain folk art is a well-known form of highly artistic wood carving from East Germany. Typical creations include Christmas decorations and products such as wooden miners' figures (Bergmannsfigur), Christmas angels (Weihnachtsengel), Reifendrehen figures of animals made by wood turning, smoking figures (Räuchermann), Christmas mountains (Weihnachtsberge) and Christmas pyramids (Flügelpyramiden), as well as candle arches (Schwibbogen), nutcrackers, and music boxes. Even today these are made entirely by hand, primarily in small craft businesses.

Wooden toymaking in the Ore Mountains

The history of wooden toymaking in the Ore Mountains is closely bound to regional circumstances. The Ore Mountains are located in Central Europe on the border between Germany and the Czech Republic. For many centuries it was a countryside in which the local population eked out a hard existence from the land. Long and harsh winters restricted agriculture; in addition the region had very poor communications. With the onset of ore mining a new line of commerce developed, but the hard labour and high risks involved meant that it was only work for young and strong men. Many were injured or died as a result of accidents. The miners rose early in the morning whilst it was still dark in order to go to work and did not return home again until late in the evening after dark. From those times comes a custom that has survived to the present day, the practice of placing lights in the window. These lights were intended to show the miners the safe way back to the homes of their families.

The Schoenhut Piano Company is an American manufacturer of toy pianos, dolls, and other wooden toys. It was founded in 1872 in Philadelphia as the A. Schoenhut Company by German immigrant and woodcarver Albert Schoenhut, who had begun making toy pianos during his youth in Germany.. Both his father and grandfather had been toy and doll-makers. The company began with making toy pianos and soon expanded to other toys such as dolls, doll houses, and circus figures. By the time of Albert Schoenhut's death in 1912, Schoenhut Piano Company had grown to become the largest toy company in the United States, and the first to export its products to Germany.. The Great Depression forced the company into bankruptcy in 1935, but a year later Otto Schoenhut opened a new company called O. Schoenhut, Inc., continuing the legacy. It was purchased in the 1980s by the Trinca family.

References

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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "The nutcracker doll: a history | The Australian Ballet". australianballet.com.au. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  3. Albright, Mary Beth (2014-12-08). "Why Fancy Nutcrackers Don't Actually Crack Nuts". National Geographic . Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  4. "The Story of The Nutcracker". germusa/custom. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  5. "NM The History of Nutcrackers ~ Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum". www.nutcrackermuseum.com. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  6. Stanton, Maureen (June 9, 2011). Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: An Insider's Look at the World of Flea Markets, Antiques, and Collecting. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 25. ISBN   978-1-101-51605-8.
  7. "Gotthelf Friedrich Füchtner". Werkstatt alter Volkskunst. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  8. "Füchtner Nutcrackers". thechristmashaus. Retrieved December 15, 2016.