Nisse – Not Goblins or Trolls

Here are some characters often mistaken for Nisse, Tomte or Gnomes. Please visit our ‘Types of Nisse’ page for a description of the various types of Nisse from town to country.

Nisse, Tomte, Gnomes.

15cm – 2 ft tall. Happy little all round craftsmen, takes care of animals. Will be helpful if looked after but has a mischievous personality and will play tricks if not.

Not to be mistaken for Nisse!


30cm. Live in large forests and are malevolent and hateful.


1 metre tall. Black filthy hair, stupid, primitive, distrustful, strong and smelly.


10-30cm. Live underground, on top of water, in branches of high trees. Not malevolent but like to tease.


1 meter 20cm. Live in forests and mountains. Good natured, digs for gold & silver. They do not have beards.


Live underground in Lapland.

Resemble but larger than Nisse are colourless and blind in daylight. Quite friendly but if mistreated disasters may occur.

Pictures from the book ‘Gnomes’ by Rien Poortvliet and Wil Huygen.

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