For over five thousand years now, incense, just like gold, spices and gems have always been some of the most precious gifts that were given to kings and emperors. It has also been closely connected with religion. In fact, the bible mentions the Three Wise Men offering gold, frankincense and myrrh. The festivity of the Three Wise Men is still celebrated in Germany every year on January 6th.
All of this together with superstition made people believe that the evil spirits of the Raunaechte (longest nights of the year) could be driven away by noise and light. Once these evil spirits had left the house, they would burn incense to bless the home. They would take incense to every room in the house on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve or the feast of Epiphany in hopes of driving off evil spirits.
After the 30 year-religious war (1618 – 1648), that was fought in Germany, the medieval piety and folk art combined to bring about new ways of burning incense. Smokers, also known as “Rauchermann” were born. Smokers are traditional handcrafted wooden items that started in the Miriquidi Forest which is now known as the Erzgebirge Mountains.
Many years ago the Erzgebirge Mountains were mined for gold, tin ore and other minerals. The people that would work in the mines during the day would often be found crafting wooden toy figurines at night. Eventually, when finding gold in the mountains started to become scarce and the mines started closing, many of the miners became full time wooden toy makers.
Smokers became something the miners made and usually resembled figurines of the people that lived and worked there, such as mailmen, fishermen, shepherds and even the village people themselves.
The Steinbach family, that has been making German folk art for five generations, has perfected the art and craft of creating Smokers. Each and everyone of these Smokers created represent a certain German character in detail. Each one has a personality of its own. Steinbach Smokers are known all over the world for their quality workmanship, expertise and attention to detail.
The next time you see a Steinbach Smoker, take a closer look at it…You may see many details you never realized before. There is a tremendous amount of work involved in creating these beautiful Smokers and the workmanship can sometimes be expensive. But remember, only the best will keep and increase it’s value and that is why your most serious collectors will usually go with Steinbach.