"Our people have walked this land for many, many years, and in that time have learned much about the world. Our allies will need to look to us for wisdom and guidance. My father once made a promise to the Horde, to repay a debt we owed them for their service to our race. I, for one, intend to deliver on that promise."
The tauren [ˈtɔɹən] (shu'halo in their native language of Taur-ahe) are a race of large, bovine humanoids who dwell on the great plains of Central Kalimdor. For countless generations, they were constantly harassed by the violent centaur, who forced the tauren into a nomadic lifestyle in the harsh Barrens.
However, during the Third War and the Horde's invasion of Kalimdor, the tauren and the invading Horde became allies, and the Horde aided the tauren in driving off the centaur from the sacred lands of Mulgore. High Chieftain Cairne Bloodhoof established the capital city of Thunder Bluff, and to this day the tauren remain one of the most stalwart allies of the Horde, even after Cairne's death and the ascension of his son, Baine Bloodhoof.
The tauren are a peaceful and honorable people, that nonetheless are fierce fighters when roused. Hunting and shamanism are held in high regard in their culture, as is their worship of the Earth Mother and respect for the land.
Origins and early history
The intrepid dwarf explorer Brann Bronzebeard believes that the tauren may ultimately be descended from an unknown bull Ancient, or some kind of animal spirit predating the Emerald Dream.
The tauren are the descendants of a bovine race known as the yaungol. Several millennia before the First War, the yaungol roamed central Kalimdor and lived in peace with the demigod Cenarius, but were eventually driven south due to not wanting to share hunting grounds with the trolls. There, the yaungol were enslaved by the mogu empire and twisted by the mogu flesh-shapers. Though they eventually regained their freedom along with the other slave races during the pandaren revolution, much of their ancient cultural heritage had been lost. Heated arguments led many yaungol to migrate back north. While one group traveled as far north as the Storm Peaks, where they took up the name taunka, the other group settled in the balmy areas surrounding the Well of Eternity. There, they reunited with Cenarius and rediscovered their ancient traditions. Those who studied with Cenarius learned the druidic magic of the natural world, while others mastered the art of wielding shamanic powers. The energies of the Well soon began to change these yaungol into a new race, who would later take up the name "tauren". The taunka, tauren and yaungol retained some contact with one another for many years, but the Great Sundering finally shattered the connections between the tribes.
War of the Ancients
In the original course of events, the tauren did not take part in the War of the Ancients, the war that occurred when the demonic Burning Legion invaded Azeroth approximately 10,000 years before the First War. However, in the altered history created by the intervention of Krasus and his companions, they were convinced to join the alliance against the Burning Legion by the dragon-mage, and the tauren tribes were led by Huln Highmountain, wielder of the eagle spear. The xenophobic night elf commander, Desdel Stareye, refused to use the tauren to their abilities, namely heavy melee fighters, on the grounds that they were apparently as likely to kill night elves and earthen as demons. After the "tragic" loss of the commander, the tauren were re-deployed to extreme effectiveness by his replacement, Jarod Shadowsong. The tauren who survived the war maintained fairly good, or at least cordial, relations with the Sentinels.
Due to a blessing bestowed upon Huln by Cenarius, the tauren under Huln — the Rivermane, Bloodtotem, Skyhorn, and Highmountain tribes — were given the Horns of Eche'ro: moose-like antlers. After the war, these tribes would rename their home region Highmountain in honor of Huln's heroism during the war.
The rise of the centaur
1,100 years before the opening of the Dark Portal, the tauren wandered Kalimdor's forests and plains, living in harmony with nature. One region in particular was especially sacred: the verdant grassland of Mashan'she, or "Loom of the Earth Mother". Drawn by faint elemental whisperings, the tauren became convinced that somewhere beneath the meadows, the Earth Mother herself dwelled. After decades of attempting to rouse her from her slumber, the tauren shaman eventually succeeded, but to their horror they realized that what they had awakened was not the benevolent Earth Mother, but the enormous earth elemental Princess Theradras, daughter of Therazane the Stonemother. The newly awakened Theradras reached out to the verdant surroundings for sustenance and consumed their energies in order to regenerate her weakened form. The tauren would later name this now barren land "Desolace".
The sudden monumental loss of life sent ripples throughout all of Azeroth and even the Emerald Dream. Zaetar, son of the forestlord Cenarius, traveled to Desolace to investigate, but though he had decided to imprison Theradras, he instead fell in love with her. Theradras requited Zaetar's affection, and the two became mates. From this forbidden and unnatural union, the centaur were born. After having brutally murder their father, the half-horse creatures quickly proliferated and spread out across Kalimdor, driving the tauren of Desolace from their homes and igniting a long and dark period of war that would come to last for many centuries.
The Third War and the Horde
For countless generations after the war, the tauren roamed the plains of the Barrens hunting the mighty kodo, and sought the wisdom of their eternal goddess, the Earth Mother. Their tent cities were scattered across the landscape and changed with the seasons and the weather. The wandering tribes were united only by a common hatred for their sworn enemy, the marauding centaur. The Earthen Ring was originally founded by tauren shaman some time before the War of the Three Hammers to lead their people with wisdom and maintain the harmony between the elemental spirits.
At the brink of extinction, the chieftain Cairne Bloodhoof, desperate for help, turned to the strange green-skinned warriors from over the sea. Cairne quickly befriended Warchief Thrall and the other orcs, and recognized that they shared a love for honor and battle. For their part, the orcs and the Darkspear trolls that composed the Horde found much in common with the tauren. Each of these races wanted to achieve a more shamanistic culture, and the tauren, long versed in the lore of spirit and nature, were well-prepared to provide counsel and support to the budding shamanism within the Horde.
With the orcs' help, Cairne and his Bloodhoof tribe were able to drive back the centaur and claim the grasslands of Mulgore for themselves. For the first time in millennia, the tauren had a land to call their own. For this alone they were forever indebted to their orcish allies. Upon the windswept mesa of Thunder Bluff, Cairne built a refuge for his people, where tauren of every tribe were welcome.
Owing a blood-debt to the orcs for their assistance, the tauren joined Thrall on Mount Hyjal to defend Kalimdor from an invasion by the demonic Burning Legion. Following the Legion's defeat, the tauren who helped defend Hyjal returned to their new home in Mulgore.
Over time the scattered tauren tribes united under Cairne's rule. There were but a few tribes who disagreed about the direction their new nation should take, but all agreed that Cairne was the wisest and best suited to lead them toward the future. Helping the mighty Cairne in the duties of ruling his race were the Archdruid Hamuul Runetotem and the elder crone Magatha Grimtotem.
Although the tauren had reclaimed their lands and battled alongside the Horde, not all was peaceful. The Grimtotem tribe tried to usurp the rule of Cairne, plotting to overthrow his leadership. At the same time, the Emerald Dream, realm of the green dragonflight, was tainted with a strange evil. Malfurion Stormrage was trapped inside, and the green dragons acted strangely as they attacked all who passed near. Both elven and tauren druids were researching these events since the Emerald Dream, home of Ysera the Dreamer (the Green Aspect), had to be be kept safe.
When a peaceful meeting between tauren and night elf druids was sabotaged by Twilight's Hammer cultists posing as members of the Horde, Cairne mistakenly thought that the new Warchief, Garrosh Hellscream, was responsible. As a result, Cairne challenged Garrosh to a mak'gora for the title of Warchief. The duel ended in Cairne's death, as the treacherous Magatha Grimtotem poisoned Garrosh's axe, Gorehowl. After Cairne's death, the Grimtotem quickly seized control of Thunder Bluff and other major tauren settlements. Cairne's son, Baine Bloodhoof became High Chieftain of the tauren and led an attack against the Grimtotem, retaking Thunder Bluff. He then banished the Grimtotem to Stonetalon Mountains.
Despite their banishment, Grimtotem forces were able to corrupt several water wells within Mulgore, but their efforts were stopped by tauren adventurers and Baine personally killed Orno Grimtotem, the leader of the Grimtotem forces invading Mulgore. The Grimtotem, hunted by the Horde, were forced into an uneasy truce with the Alliance in Stonetalon Mountains, the likes of which was broken shortly after.
Within Mulgore, the quilboar began attacking tauren caravans. While many tauren and Garrosh Hellscream wished to confront the attackers, Baine looked towards diplomatic measures to find a compromise. Several of the tauren began to express dissatisfaction with Baine's compromising attitude with Garrosh. Viewing his willingness to bow down to every demand made of him as an affront to their peoples' interests, they considered walking away from the Horde. Led by Greyhoof Farwanderer, these tauren prepared to leave both the Horde and Mulgore. When yet another caravan was attacked, Garrosh and his Kor'kron personally assaulted the quilboar, only to be nearly overrun. Baine, Hamuul and the Sunwalkers arrived to relieve the battle and help the orcs escape. Hamuul then demonstrated the power of the Earth Mother to Garrosh as he called upon a river. Baine stood over the defeated quilboar, and instructed them that this river would provide them with all the water they needed - provided that no more attacks were made on the tauren people. The quilboar anxiously returned to their tunnels. Later on, Baine was approached by Greyhoof Farwanderer and the tauren that had prepared to leave Mulgore prior, and having witnessed Baine's victory over the quilboar, apologized for doubting the high chieftain's ability to lead and requested a pardon for this rash action. Baine granted it, and urged them to remain strong and steadfast in these trying times for the good of their people.
When Alliance forces invaded the Barrens, Camp Taurajo was burned to the ground. The survivors fled to Camp Una'fe and Vendetta Point. To protect Mulgore from being invaded, the tauren created a mighty wall named the Great Gate.
Mists of Pandaria
When the Warchief issued a call for the leaders of the Horde to gather for a meeting in Orgrimmar, Baine answered the summons despite not feeling right within the "new Orgrimmar." Garrosh then informed them of his plan to destroy the Alliance port of Theramore. While Baine and other leaders protested against such a plan, they all agreed in the end. Despite his personal misgivings, Baine ultimately resolves to join Garrosh's cause in an attempt to protect his people. Baine led his tauren forces from the Great Gate and then joined up with Vol'jin and his Darkspear forces. Baine then co-led the combined tauren and Darkspear army as it marched from the Gate to Northwatch Hold, killing any Alliance that got in their way. Baine ordered his forces to attend to the bodies of the fallen. He further ordered that that his people not desecrate any of the fallen Alliance soldiers. After they finally arrived at Theramore, Baine led his tauren in battle. When the battle was won with Theramore's destruction, Baine and the tauren returned to Thunder Bluff.
During a period, Baine and several tauren of Thunder Bluff had dreams of a valley, golden with blossoms, filled with the hope of peace. Baine Bloodhoof ordered Sunwalker Dezco and his Dawnchaser tribe to sail into uncharted waters in search of this mysterious place. Guided by the visions of Dezco's pregnant wife, Leza, the last vessel was able to find Pandaria, and landed on the southern shore of Krasarang Wilds. After heading inland by canoe, the group set up camp at Thunder Cleft. The tribe continued on in their search for weeks until they finally discovered the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. They moved into the vale and settled at the Shrine of Two Moons.
When Vol'jin declared open rebellion against Garrosh, Baine and the tauren pledged their support. The two forces, along with the rest of the Horde and the Alliance, then marched upon Orgrimmar, where Garrosh was ultimately defeated.
The tauren are a noble race that embrace the natural world. They have shed their nomadic roots and united in their ancestral lands. Their race may be one of spirituality, reverence for nature, and respect for elders, but it also possesses powerful warriors that willingly fight when the situation demands it. The shu'halo people strive to live honorable and dignified lives filled with respect for nature and the Earth Mother. Although strong and capable warriors when roused in battle, most tauren reserve combat for when all other options are exhausted. They prefer course of wise discussion and careful rumination before embarking on any great endeavor, and they have great respect for the wise, spiritual and elderly among their people. The tauren are not wrathful by nature, but sometimes a thirst for justice causes them to take up arms in anger.
"Into the brave hearts of her pure children, the Earthmother placed the love of the hunt. For the creatures of the first dawn were savage and fierce. They hid from the Earthmother, finding solace in the shadows and the wild places of the land. The Shu'halo hunted these beasts wherever they could be found and tamed them with the Earthmother's blessing."
— The White Stag and the Moon
Though the noble tauren are peaceful in nature, the rites of the Great Hunt are venerated as the heart of their spiritual culture. Every tauren, warrior or otherwise, seeks identity as both a hunter and as a child of the Earthmother. Tauren, young or otherwise, seek to prove their bravery by setting themselves against the creatures of the wild. Hunting is a tauren's greatest honor; at times they hunt for food, at times for honor, and at times to earn the Earthmother's teachings. Hunters are important to the tribes as a strong part of tauren tradition and history, and are respected and revered if they serve their people well. Young gazelles quickly learn to flee when they hear the war cries of tauren hunters in Mulgore. They don't hear the good hunters, unfortunately. While mighty warriors defend the tauren's homes, shamans show the ancestors' past and druids discover the Earthmother's will, hunters learn many aspects of those roles and blend them together. They represent the heart of the tauren people, and are looked to for guidance and protection. Despite killing the animals, the tauren are taught never to waste anything given to them by nature and to give back what they can. They learn the fine balance that exists in nature and that if they honor the Earthmother, she will bless them in return.
Many tribes claim that it is a gift to be blessed with the aptitude to use magic or to talk to the ancestors, but tauren warriors are taught that they are just as gifted. They are a special breed also, not unlike the druids and shamans, and are just as important. They are the ones called upon to defend the borders, to hunt the centaur, and to go to war. Every warrior plays a role in their tribe, and they must all go through the same rites.
Despite their enormous size and brute strength, the remarkably peaceful tauren cultivate a quiet, tribal society. However, when roused by conflict, tauren are implacable enemies who will use every ounce of their strength to smash their enemies under hoof. They are noble and proud and have never, despite significant adversity in the past, succumbed to their enemies. Like the orcs, the tauren now struggle to retain their sense of tradition and noble identity.
The tauren worship the Earth Mother as their creator. According to the tauren myth Sorrow of the Earthmother, when the Earth Mother saw her children falling to the corrupting whispers from below the earth, (the work of the Old Gods) she tore out her eyes and set them spinning endlessly across the sky. Her left eye became Mu'sha, the moon, and her right eye became An'she, the sun. Neither of both is better than the other, and together they see with balanced vision - they are the tauren's own "Light".
The earliest history of the tauren is recorded in a series of myths. These chronicle the period of time from the creation of the world to the appearance of the centaur, speaking of the creation of the tauren by the Earthmother, their meeting with Cenarius, and the coming of the centaur.
Due to night elven influence, tauren druids long revered only Mu'sha, as Mu'sha is considered to be the tauren equivalent of the kaldorei moon goddess, Elune. During the War against the Lich King, the warrior Aponi Brightmane engaged in theological discussion about this matter with Tahu Sagewind. Aponi pointed out that in all else, the tauren strived for balance, and she wondered if they had neglected a key aspect of balance in all things. As a result of these discussions, following the Cataclysm, the Sunwalkers, an order of tauren paladins, arose, wielding the power of the Light through An'she.
Besides the Earthmother and her two eyes, an entity known as the Sky Father is also worshipped.
The tauren believe that the Earth Mother weaves the strands of fate.
Darkness is not considered evil by the tauren, for it is a naturally occurring thing, and therefore right.
Believed to be the ill omen of a coming age, white tauren are held in near reverence by their people, often becoming reclusive priests who wander the land in search of kindred spirits.
Tauren legends abound regarding the great horned kodos of Kalimdor's Barrens. Some myths tell of rare kodos that are bound to the spirits of the sky and storm, thus allowing the colossal beasts to harness the powers of lightning itself.
Sun rocs feature prominently in primitive tauren mythological cycles.
Shu'halo ancient myth tells of three powerful artifacts — [The Rattle of Bones], [The Drums of War] and [The Writ of History]. If the tales are to be believed, they were gifts from the Earth Mother herself.
The tauren chieftains hold such sacred bonds with their Earthmother that they can actually be reincarnated after they die in combat. Though this ability is very rare, it makes the wise, benevolent chieftains a dangerous foe to threaten.
The tauren do not bury their dead. Rather, they prepare the body for its return to the elements and place it at one of their sacred grave sites. Only the most valiant tauren are laid to rest at Red Rocks, the tauren's sacred burial ground. It is an honor bestowed upon the great warriors who helped found and defend Thunder Bluff and those who have given their lives for the greater good of their tribes and chieftains.
Once the proper rites have been performed, the spirits of the deceased join the Earth Mother to find peace. Deceased tauren ancestors are welcomed at the "hearth of the ancestors", and cremated shu'halo are said to become one with both the Earth Mother and Sky Father, who welcome the dead.
The Dawnchaser tribe believes that honored ancestors who gave their own lives to save, or create, other lives become yeena'e ("those who herald the dawn" in Taur-ahe) — spirits who aid An'she in announcing the coming of dawn.
The Feast of Winter Veil
The tauren and their shamanistic understanding of winter, along with their recent emergence into druidic endeavors, fit in well with the legend of Winter Veil. They focus almost entirely on the renewing aspects of the lore however, leaving legend worship to those races (as they view it) less in tune with the nature of things. Many tauren choose this time as the right time to give thanks for the blessings of their new home in Mulgore. Some tauren disapprove of the modern Winter Veil celebrations, claiming that the goblins have "polluted" the true meaning of the holiday.
The totem poles of the tauren people represent a link to their past. The carvings provide a focus for shamanic arts or illustrate stories of famous events or heroic tales.
Tauren villages use smoke signals to coordinate hunts over great distances, or, occasionally, to signal distress.
One respectful greeting gesture of the tauren is to touch one's heart, then forehead.
Young tauren perform the Rites of the Earthmother in order to become braves and gain the respect of elders in Thunder Bluff. These Rites consist of the following:
Rite of Strength: the first ceremony, proving physical strength.
Rite of Courage: to prove bravery in the face of the enemy.
Rite of Honor: to uphold the honor of your people.
Rite of the Winds: willingness to seek the unknown.
Rite of Vision: willingness to follow the guidance of the spirits.
Rite of Wisdom: to honor one's ancestors.
After completing the Rites, the brave must continue proving their worth in order to retain their status.
One ceremony apparently involves a tauren presenting themselves before the High Chieftain whilst wearing a special feathered headdress. At least one of their siblings is required to witness the ceremony.
It is likely that each tribe has their own unique traditions, as the Dawnchaser tribe is known to have customs rarely found in other tribes.
The shu'halo use pine nuts in most dishes: meat, fish, vegetables, even baked into breads or sprinkled over sweet pastries. The very best pine nuts come from the trees upon the very mesas of Thunder Bluff. The fine and noble spice bread of Thunder Bluff is traded in countless settlements in the most far-away lands, even by the tauren's staunchest foes. One of Thunder Bluff's most important staples is cornmeal; bowls of corn may be found in nearly every home, and cornmeal biscuits, once merely a staple food among the tauren tribes in Mulgore, have traveled along various trade routes and are now enjoyed in many regions across Azeroth. One of the great delicacies of Mulgore is the crayfish that dwell in lakes and streams. They are particularly popular during weddings or the celebration of a birth.
When the Alliance allied with the Grimtotem tribe in Stonetalon Mountains, Force Commander Valen asked "Cookie" McWeaksauce to cook up the finest of tauren cuisine; an offering no tauren, "not even a grim tauren", could refuse. It consisted of eagle eggs, ram meat and a special cheese kept by the local kobolds.
[Thunder Bluff Marzipan] is a traditional tauren Hallow's End treat.
Mounts and pets
The kodos are the racial mount of the tauren. Swifter and slightly smaller than their wild cousins, kodo mounts nevertheless demonstrate the same resilience and fearlessness found in their untamed brethren, traits that serve them well when bearing their equally resolute riders. When the tauren settled in Mulgore, they also brought the kodos with them. Many kodos hold a special bond with the benevolent tauren race.
Like rest of the Horde in Kalimdor, the tauren use wyverns, which they consider sacred, as their flying mounts.
Brown Prairie Dogs are their racial pets.
Tauren are described as half-bovine beings and are known to have a very large bulk and weight, long tails, bipedal hooves, and only three fingers per hand. Both males and females have horns of varying size and shape.
Tauren are large, muscular humanoids and bovine in appearance, complete with hooves and horns. They weigh anywhere from 400 to 800 pounds. Their immense bodies are covered with fine, short fur that ranges in color from black to gray to white to red to brown to tan and any mottled combinations or variations thereof. When tauren grow old, their pelts start to become dotted with gray.
Fleet Master Seahorn remarks that most non-tauren find them indistinguishable from one another. In fact, most non-tauren find them indistinguishable from a certain four-legged farm creature.
Tauren tribes and organizations
Note: These may not all represent tribes, but only special names given later in life or surnames.
-Bloodhoof tribe — Leading tauren tribe within the Horde. Led by Baine Bloodhoof.
-Cliffwalkers — Dwell on top of Cliffwalker Post in Stonetalon Mountains. Led by High Chieftain Cliffwalker.
-Cloudsong tribe — Took on the role of spiritual leaders after the Skychaser tribe was wiped out by the Grimtotem.
-Dawnchaser tribe — Tribe who set out to find Pandaria. Led by Sunwalker Dezco.
-Farwanderers tribe — Considered leaving the Horde due to disapproving of Garrosh's rule. Led by Greyhoof Farwanderer.
-Grimtotem tribe — Renegade tribe, known for being much more aggressive than other tauren. Led by Magatha Grimtotem.
-Highmountain tribe — Led by Ornamm.
-Ironhoof tribe - According to Durgan One-God, the tauren of Old Ironhoof live in the Desolace area called the Last Forest.
-Stonespire tribe — Mostly wiped out by the dwarves of Bael'dun Keep.
-Thunderhorn clan — Spiritual leaders of tauren shaman. Wiped out by the Grimtotem tribe.
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