The earliest German Smokers were made from dough and paper mache. Then in the late 1600s, the smokers were carved from one single piece of wood and made into tiny figurines that resemble typical German villagers. Even during the Swedish invasion in the 1600s, the tradition was never lost. Those who remained in the area turned their focus to making the German Smokers, along with a number of other popular German handmade toys and ornaments. Many of the best-known carving companies in the Erzgebirge area (Ore Mountains) still make smokers today and this area is still known as the premier toy and collectible region of Europe
For thousands of years, incense has been treasured. This precious commodity was traded and sold for vast sums of money. As precious as gold, it was even brought to the infant Jesus as a gift from the Three Wise Men. Incense has been historically used to cleanse evil spirits, and to make the world a better smelling place. In the early 1800s, carvers in the Erzgebirge began carving Räuchermännchen or Smokers to burn incense during the holiday season. They were meant to symbolize the gifts brought on the Epiphany Jan. 6, as well as clear out the spirits of the previous year.
Using the wood from trees that are indigenous to the Erzgebirge region, German smokers are carved from a single piece of wood by skilled craftsmen. With traditional techniques that have been handed through the generations since the mid-1800s, דייַטש סמאָוקערז are prized for their finely detailed craftsmanship and whimsical appeal. While carved from the same piece of wood, German smokers are actually two pieces that fit together to make one unified piece. The base of the smoker is where an incense cone can be placed in the center and the hollowed out top of the smoker fits over the cone. A small hole is drilled into the bottom of the base which forces the smoke from the incense cone to travel out of the top of the smoker through the mouth hole of the figurine.
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