Tauren

Introductory video

Physical appearance

Tauren are basically minotaurs: they walk erect like humans but have bovine heads and hooves. Both the males and females are large – 7-8 ft. tall – and the males are especially bulky, with humps like bulls. Most of their hairstyles involve braids.

Tauren female Tauren male

The Tauren males’ dance is a combination of the viral YouTube video “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” and the “Chicken Noodle Soup” dance, which came out of Harlem and also went viral on YouTube.

The females perform the Electric Slide.

Language

Both the male and female avatars speak in deep-voiced SAE.

Architecture

Tauren architecture is a mishmash of various Native American tribes’ buildings: Iroquois longhouses, Plateau tule lodges, Plains teepees, and Pacific Northwest Coastal totem poles.

Thunder Bluff from the perch on its giant totem pole.

Thunder Bluff from the perch on its giant totem pole.

Lore

They’re Native Americans. The Tauren are one of the most obvious races, representationally; it’s easy to spot their Native American influences. They’re deeply tied to nature – their god is the Earthmother; they practice shamanism; they’re one of the two races that can be druids. They’re described in their intro as both peace-loving folk and ardent hunters: “Though the noble Tauren are peaceful in nature, the rites of the Great Hunt are venerated as the heart of their spiritual culture.”   The notion that an entire culture is built around nomadic hunting of beasts is, I think, a nod to Plains tribes’ cultural relationships with bison.[12.Of course, the fact that the Tauren look like bison means they can’t be hunting them, so they hunt kodo, which look like Triceratops.]

Of course, the influences behind the Taurens’ design are more cartoony than realistic, and they ultimately draw more from white representations of Indians than from Indians themselves. Their name comes from the Greek word for “bull,” tauros, rather than an Indian word. Their leaders go by the name of “chief,” a term that was applied to Indians by English colonists in the seventeenth century.  WoWWiki describes them as temperamentally “stoic, embodying the strong and silent type with their quiet contemplation,” evoking the stereotype of the “silent Indian.”  Then there’s their architecture, about which see above. Semiotic mixtures exist in almost all of WoW‘s races, and you could explain the diversity in their buildings through the lore, which states that there are many tribes of Tauren united under a single leader for political stability and defense. However, vis-à-vis representational mixtures, the Tauren are a special case: there’s historical precedent of lumping together the various peoples they stand for, often in the context of conquest and colonialism.  So they, and the Trolls, mean something different than the Humans. But there’s one big difference between the Trolls and Tauren:

They’re noble savages. Like the Trolls, the Tauren are portrayed in primitivist terms, but the Tauren are an interesting inverse of the Trolls in terms of their supposed virtue and strength. Where the Trolls are both physically weak and evil, the Tauren are “strong” and “noble.” (The unerring positivity in the Taurens’ description actually sets them apart from all of the other Horde races, who are each portrayed as flawed in some way.) In terms of primitivism, then, the Tauren represent the flip side of the Trolls’ coin: the noble savage.

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  1. […]  It’s very hard to separate Tauren from the people they are closely informed by – Native Americans. Female Tauren are generally presented as calm and close to nature, as hunters or druids, and the […]

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