Since the fifteenth century, the second of January has been a day of significance for the suspicious. It is called “Man of the forest” day and is most prominent in the regions of Hessen and Thuringen. It is believed that on this day foresters and others working in forests should lay down their tools so as not to disturb the winter sleep of the ‘Man of the forest’. Those not observing this tradition run the risk of a dangerous act of vengeance from the ‘Man of the forest’.
This suspicion was for me hitherto unknown! But I knew that there was a ‘Man of the forest’ in our collection made of glass no less! I decided to find the puppet.
The Glassmänchen translated: ‘little glass man’ is rather a fancy Marionette created by Xaver August Schichtl (1888-1965). Thankfully for me, he wasn’t upset when I woke him up to be the centre of attention in a photo shooting!
The last time the glass man was on the road was in 2018, when he appeared on loan from KOLK17 in a special exhibition in the Villa p of the Magdeburg Puppet Theatre. The exhibition was entitled “Walked-in” and featured famous historic puppets of the Magdeburg theatre impressario and puppeteer Xaver Schichtl.
Approximately sixty puppets along with many puppet heads and props from our collection were displayed in the special exhibition. In the photo the glass man can be seen standing beside his ‘colleagues’ from the fairytale “The cold heart”
Written in 1827 by Wilhelm Hauff, “the cold heart” is a critical play about the paths travelled by some people on their way to fame and fortune at the expense of others. A current theme if ever there were one.
The story is told of the poor charcoal burner, Peter Munk from the Black Forest whose wish it is to be rich and famous. Peter seeks out the glass man in the forbidding forest who helps him, even though he thinks his wishes unwise.The story of Peter Munk takes a very unfortunate turn. Peter gets into financial difficulties through his own fault. He exchanges his beating heart for money and a heart of stone with the feared forest spirit, the Dutchman Michel. This makes him hard-hearted, stingy and brutal. In his rage, Peter hits his wife, Lisbeth. Realising what a terrible deed he has committed he seeks help from the glass man!
The good glass man helps Peter to get his heart back from the Dutchman Michel by means of a trick. Lisbeth also brings the glass man back to life.
Peter deeply regrets his deeds and from then on lives modestly but contentedly the life of a charcoal burner.
So if you would prefer to avoid working in the forest on 02 January, you are cordially invited to browse through our blog instead. Perhaps this post has whetted your appetite to watch one of the many film adaptations of the fairy tale.
Have fun and many good wishes for the new year, 2022!