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Fiery kobolds are also called drakes, draches, or puks.
Irish historian Thomas Keightley argued that the German kobold and the Scandinavian nis predate the Irish fairy and the Scottish brownie and influenced the beliefs in those entities, but American folklorist Richard Mercer Dorson has discounted this argument as reflecting Keightley's bias toward Gotho-Germanic ideas over Celtic ones.
These beliefs spread, becoming the kobold, the Germanic gnome, In contrast, Humorists William Edmonstoune Aytoun and Theodore Martin (writing as "Bon Gaultier") have proposed that the Norse themselves were the models for the mine kobold and similar creatures, such as dwarfs, goblins, and trolls; Norse miners and smiths "were small in their physical proportions, and usually had their stithies near the mouths of the mines among the hills." This gave rise to myths about small, subterranean creatures, and the stories spread across Europe "as extensively as the military migrations from the same places did".
German writer Heinrich Smidt believed that the sea kobolds, or Klabautermann, entered German folklore via German sailors who had learned about them in England.
However, historians David Kirby and Merja-Liisa Hinkkanen dispute this, claiming no evidence of such a belief in Britain.
An alternate view connects the Klabautermann myths with the story of Saint Phocas of Sinope.
Another type of kobold haunts underground places, such as mines.
A third kind of kobold, the Klabautermann, lives aboard ships and helps sailors.
Scottish historical novelist Walter Scott has suggested that the Proto-Norse based the kobolds on the short-statured Finns, Lapps, and Latvians who fled their invasions and sought shelter in northern European caves and mountains.
There they put their skills at smithing to work and, in the beliefs of the proto-Norse, came to be seen as supernatural beings.
These kobold effigies were 30 to 60 cm (one to two feet) high and had colourful clothing and large mouths.
One example, known as the monoloke, was made from white wax and wore a blue shirt and black velvet vest.
This may indicate a common origin for these creatures, or it may represent cultural borrowings and influences of European peoples upon one another.