The Räuchermann (diminutive Räuchermännchen), erzgebirgisch Raachermannel is an "incense smoker", the invention of toy makers in the Ore Mountains and used to burn down cone incense, known as Räucherkerzchen.
The Räuchermann was first mentioned in 1850 and is now a common component in the Ore Mountain Christmas tradition. For this, a cone incense is set on first, then put on the lower part of the bifid wood figurine. The upper part is hollowed out and put on top of the first part. The cone incense burns down inside of the hollow figurine, the smoke leaving the mouth hole of the Räuchermann. Before the Räuchermann was invented, cone incense was displayed and burnt down in the open.
Several kinds of figurines exist, traditionally displaying craftsmen of the region, such as foresters, peddlers, miners, and soldiers. Today, they exist in many more forms, including the so-called edgesitters, which can be placed on the edge of the table, small sceneries of several Räuchermänner (such as a group playing Skat), and also female Räuchermänner, called Räucherfrauen. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the largest Räuchermann in the world is in the Miniaturenpark Kleinwelka in Bautzen.
As analogy to the Räuchermann, the upper Vogtland invented the Moosmann (or Moosmännel). He is supposed to be a small forest spirit, who helps poor families with natural products, could change leaves to gold, and - according to folk tales mostly appears during Christmas time.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Räuchermännchen.|