Huldufólk, or Hidden People, are a part of Icelandic folklore.


Some see the term as synonymous with álfar (elves), while others differentiate between the two. Sigubjörg Karlsdottir, an elf tour guide in Hafnarfjördur, has said: "Hidden people... are like humans: tall and handsome. Elves are a little stranger looking with big ears and long skinny legs." [cite news | first=Barbara | last=Gruber | coauthors= | title=Iceland: Searching For Elves And Hidden People | date=2007-06 | publisher= | url =,2144,2786922,00.html | work =Deutsche Welle | pages = | accessdate = 2008-09-18 | language = ] Jón Árnason, a famous Icelandic folklorist, has said that the terms are synonymous, except álfar is a pejorative term. Konrad Maurer, a German scholar, contends that huldufólk was a euphemism to avoid calling the álfar by their real name. [cite book | last = Sontag | first = Katrin | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Parallel worlds : fieldwork with elves, Icelanders and academics | publisher = University of Iceland | date = 2007 | location = | pages = 13-14 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = ]


Gunnell writes: “different beliefs could have lived side by side in multicultural settlement Iceland before they gradually blended into the latter-day Icelandic álfar and huldufólk.” [ Citation| first=Terry | last=Gunnell| coauthors=| contribution=How Elvish Were The Álfar?| title=The 13th International Saga Conference| editor-first=| editor-last=| coeditors=| publisher=| place=| pages=| date=| year=2007| id= | contribution-url=| format=| accessdate=2008-09-01 ]

According to one folk tale, the origins of the hidden people can be traced to Adam and Eve. Eve hid her dirty, unwashed children from God, and lied about their existence. God then declared: "What man hides from God, God will hide from man." [ cite web|url= |title=Origin of the Hidden People: Two Legends from Iceland by Jón Arnason |accessdate=2008-09-18 |last=Ashliman |first=D. L. |work=D. L. Ashliman's folktexts ]

According to Árni Björnsson, belief in hidden people grew during the 17th and 18th centuries when Iceland was facing tough times. [cite news | first=David | last=Wallis | coauthors= | title=The World: Gnome Is Where the Heart Is; What Little Elves Tell Icelanders | date=1999-09-19 | publisher= | url = | work =The New York Times | pages = | accessdate = 2008-10-03 | language = ]

urvey Results

Árni Björnsson, the former director of the ethnological department of the National Museum of Iceland, did a study of Icelanders born between 1870 and 1920. He was disappointed to find that only 10% believed in supernatural beings. [ Citation| first=Árni | last=Björnsson| coauthors=| contribution=False Myths concerning Iceland| title=the Beck Lectures on Icelandic Literature| editor-first=| editor-last=| coeditors=| publisher=| place=University of Victoria| pages=| date=2007-09-26| year=2007| id= | contribution-url=| format=| accessdate=2008-09-18 ]

According to a 1975 survey by psychologist Erlendur Haraldsson, Icelanders’ level of belief in hidden people and fairies can be broken down into the following percentages:
* Impossible, 10%
* Unlikely, 18%
* Possible, 33%
* Probable, 15%
* Certain, 7%
* No opinion, 17% [ cite web|url= |title=Results of a survey on psychic, religious and folkloric experiences and beliefs in Iceland |accessdate=2008-09-01 |last=Haraldsson |first=Erlendur |date=1975 |format=DOC ]

A July 1998 survey by Dagblaðið Vísir found that 54.4% of Icelanders surveyed claimed to believe in elves, while 45.6% did not. [ cite journal|title=The Elves’ Point of View: Cultural identity in contemporary Icelandic elf tradition|journal=Fabula|date=2000|first=Valdimar|last=Hafstein|coauthors=|volume=41|issue=1-2|pages=87|id=|url=|format=|accessdate=2008-09-01 ]

A 2006 survey by folklorist Terry Gunnell found that “There is a little bit more doubt than there used to be, but generally the figures were much the same as they were.” [cite news | first=Sveinn Birkir | last=Björnsson | coauthors= Terry Gunnell | title=Elves in Cultural Vocabulary | date=2007-10-06 | publisher= | url = | work =The Reykjavík Grapevine Online | pages = | accessdate = 2008-09-01 | language = ]

Level of Belief

Anthropologist Kirsten Hastrup found that different ways of asking Icelanders about Huldufólk could elicit very different responses. [ cite journal|title=Getting it right: Knowledge and evidence in anthropology|journal=Anthropological Theory|date=2004|first=Kirsten|last=Hastrup|coauthors=|volume=4|issue=4|pages=465-466|id= doi|10.1177/1463499604047921|url=|format=|accessdate=2008-09-01 ] Similarly, Folklore professor Terry Gunnell has said: “Very few will say immediately that they “believe” in such, but they won´t deny it either.” [cite news | first=Sveinn Birkir | last=Björnsson | coauthors= Terry Gunnell | title=Elves in Cultural Vocabulary | date=2007-10-06 | publisher= | url = | work =The Reykjavík Grapevine Online | pages = | accessdate = 2008-09-01 | language = ]

ee also

* Icelandic Elf School
* Icelandic Elf Folklore
* Vættir


External Links

* [ "Elfes et rapports à la nature en Islande"]
* [ Huldufólk 102]
* [ Elves of Iceland]
* [ Enquête sur le monde invisible]
* [ Fairies and other Tales]
* [ Spirits of Iceland]
* [ People Not Seen]

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