Munchkin Civil War
Munchkins, you know, the short people in the Wizard of Oz movie. Why are they so short? Why do they like blue?
L. Frank Baum wrote four races into The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Munchkin, Winkie, Quadling, and Gillikin. Then there were the folks in the Emerald Lands – the accepted term is Ozian, which Baum used himself in three of his books.
As I was working on Hidden History of Oz, Book 2, I noticed something peculiar. Munchkins and Gillikins have the same suffix – kin. Could they be related? I believe so. Walk with me a while and I’ll tell you.
The Hidden History of Oz is Celtic Ireland imagined through American dreams during the Industrial Revolution. L. Frank Baum was fascinated with Ireland. It was fairy country.
Who are the Munchkins?
Hidden History Munchkins
Munchkins are average-sized people, skilled at working wood. Their homes are round – influenced by Russian architecture. They live a peaceful life, not worrying about the past or the future.
Locasta (who will one day be the Witch of the North) spoke of the Munchkins in a conversation with Glinda:
“Your master conquered the Munchkins.” Glinda said.
“She did that years ago.” Locasta answered, her face blank of any expression…”They lived with it so long that they forgot that they allowed her that privilege in the first place. I was part of the price paid for Kalinya retreating into the Tall House.”
— The Hidden History of Oz, Book One: The Witch Queens, chapter 34, “The Foundations of Emerald City”
In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum describes the Munchkins thusly:
They were not as big as the grown folk [Dorothy] had always been used to; but neither were they very small. In fact, they seemed about as tall as Dorothy, who was a well-grown child for her age, although they were, so far as looks go, many years older.
…They wore round hats that rose to a small point a foot above their heads, with little bells around the brims that tinkled sweetly as they moved…the men were dressed in blue, the same shade as their hats, and wore well-polished boots with a deep roll of blue at the tops.
…When these people drew near to the house where Dorothy was standing in the doorway, they paused and whispered among themselves, as if afraid to come farther.
— The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, chapter 2 “The Council with the Munchkins”
We know the Munchkins from the movie. They were little people who sang and danced. They included the Lollipop Guild, the ballerinas, and the Coroner. All these wonderful characters and more helped Dorothy discover her way to the Yellow Brick Road through song.
History of the Munchkins
I should be clear that I am discovering and building a history based on Baum’s original work. The works of others and their Munchkin adventures in the non-canonical Oz books are a different version of Oz.
Family is important in the Old Country. If two families settled in a land together and lived generation after generation in close proximity, and they wanted to keep their family ties, they could adopt the suffix -kin as their hereditary claim. Hence, you have two clans of people – the Munch-kin and the Gilly-kin.
The Munchkins stayed in the East. The Gillikins went to the wild lands in the North. Each kept their family identity and particular stylings intact. The Munchkins continued to build their round houses and build their wooden masterworks. The Gillikins built square houses and worked in stone. Some of their stoneworks can still be seen in Munchkin village – the bridge over the river, the stone fisherman’s hut, and the foundation of the Tall House.
Without spoiling anything in book 2, I will just say that there was a rift in this great people, and blood was shed. Each decided their loyalties and they separated. There are still rivalries between them. These loyalties will be tested as the series unfolds.
Read the story for yourself
Read the book to explore the Hidden History of Oz for yourself. Now available in convenient digital or paperback versions. The Hidden History of Oz, Book One: The Witch Queens.