History of Steinbach “Rauchermen” (Smoker)
For five thousand years, incense, like gold, spices and gems, has been among the
most precious gifts of kings and emperors. It has also been closely connected
with religion. The bible says in Matthew 2, verse 11, about the journey of the
Three Wise Men to Bethlehem: “and opened their treasures and offered him gold,
frankincense and myrrh”. The festivity of the Three Wise Men is still
celebrated in Germany on January 6.
Christian and Germanic customs 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 the
devils and evil spirits had left the house fine incense was burnt to bless
hearth and home.
The old sign: C+M+B
is also today written in chalk over the front
door would be the magic spell that keeps all evil away throughout the year.
After the 30 years-religious-war (1618-1648)
that was fought in the heart of Germany medieval piety and folk art combined to
bring about new forms of burning-incense. Thus, the “Rauchermen”, carved and
turned from wood, were born in the Miriquidi Forest, later known as the
Erzgebirge. Over the years all kinds and types of Rauchermen were designed:
respectable and professional people, folk characters, heroes and forest workers.
The Steinbach family, that has been making
German folk art for 5 generations, has perfected the art and craft of creating
Rauchermen. All figures represent a certain German folk character manufactured
in the most charming detail. Each one has a quaint personality of its own.
Herr Steinbach and his artists constantly dig
into German history and culture to come up with new ideas every year. Once the
basic idea is born, details have to be worked out in close cooperation with the
production people. Every figure consists of numerous parts and pieces which,
designed seperately, have to fit perfectly together in the end. One sloppy step
and the whole product is worthless.
After designing, the right wood has to be
selected and cut and milled into boards and dowels of many different sizes.
Skilled craftsmen turn the rough pieces into their final shapes. Many of the
small parts are made on automatic machines. However, also these have to be
masterly set up for the tiniest pieces. The experienced hands of the carver give
The larger pieces are then sprayed in the
typical Steinbach fashion using colors, blends and shadings in a way that makes
these products very special. After a drying period rough spots are sanded off,
holes drilled and all the little details painted by the artists. Everything is a
very tedious work, but when the many pieces finally shape the finished product,
we are all proud of the latest creation.
The next time you see a Steinbach Raucherman
look at it and you will find many details you never realized before. And
remember, it is only Steinbach who does them with such expertness. There is a
lot of work involved and workmanship is expensive. However, only the best will
keep and increase its value. Collect the original collect Steinbach.
Instructions: Pull out legs, place incense cone
in metal holder leaving a little room between metal and cone and press clamps
together. Light incense cone and put top part on legs again. See how they puff?