A nondream (no, really!) unfired terracotta sculpture, 25 cm long and 15 tall (10 x 6"), by Chris Wayan; 2005/7/8, with 2016 follow-up
I keep meeting fox-people and centaurs in my dreams. But these sketches and sculpture show a strange hybrid of those two images: a foxtaur.
This wasn't a dream, but a conscious experiment. I grew up reading John Varley's elaborately worked out science-fiction centaurs in his books TITAN and WIZARD. They were a people even more oversexed than humans, and they had to be, for fertilization and pregnancy was a two-staged affair, first "foresex" than "hindsex"... involving three sets of genitalia, aft, middle and fore.
I didn't want to get quite that complex, so I compromised. Here we have a vixentaur, a woman; we know this because she has a fore-vagina; foxtaur men will have a wolflike fore-phallus. But both sexes have a hind-vagina and can bear pups.
Foresex is casual, affectionate fun; if fertilization results, a couple of months later a woman lays a small rubbery egg. This may be either discarded (or saved as a sentimental keepsake, or fried up and eaten if you now can't stand the guy and really want to insult him) or implanted in the hind-vagina; a second "fertilization" is needed to continue the gestation to term.
Partners are usually pickier about hindsex, since this alone can result in pups (though it may not, just as with foresex.)
This is the exact reverse of Varley's centaurs, who engage in hindsex as freely as bonobos, transplant eggs from aft to forward womb, consider foresex intimate, and give birth to the front. This seems less logical, as you'd want to carry a full-term infant low down with quadrupedal support, and give birth through a pelvis that has the lighter load on it--surely one of the great benefits of being a taur not a human is not feeling, late-term, like a stiltwalking melon.
So a vixentaur's forewomb is small and lays an egg; the hindwomb is larger and bears pups--with, on average, far less pain and risk than human births. So foresex is fun; hindsex means love. Of course that's an over-generalization! Foxtaur individuals vary, like any species. But even the wildest taurs don't raise their tails for just anyone.
In truth, foxtaurs don't really manage to mix genes from three parents; instead, foxtaur semen contains a complex set of hormonal messages that regulate the expression of genes of the foreparents. This epigenetic influence is substantial but not quite as lasting--two or three generations. Of course humans have such epigenetic influences too--it's just that we rarely have third parties getting a word in!
Speaking of foreparents, it should be noted that some pups really can have up to four parents. It's possible to plant your fertile egg into someone else's hindwomb--including one's husband! One can end up with a foremother (always female), forefather (always male), hindmother (either sex) and hindfather (male). Often the fore- and hind-father are the same, just as fore- and hind-mother often are; but not always. So a cub can have two, three or four parents.
Since contraception is simple (you just don't implant that egg), all foxtaur kits are wanted kits. This biological difference shapes much of foxtaur society. While such complex relationships open up grand opportunities for byzantine family dysfunctions that humans never dreamed of, foxtaur society is generally pretty sane. Personalities vary as much as humans, but outright sociopaths are much rarer.
What else shapes foxtaur life? They like to burrow and lack claustrophobia; and they're small: mean weight is 30 kg (66 lbs). So foxtaur "houses" are winding mazes of small tunnels and irregular rooms. Ideally these vary in shape, texture and smell--a sandy room will have a passage squeezing between stones to a root-filled room. The addition of hearths and glass windows hasn't changed the overall mazelike quality; these aren't hobbit-holes, all leveled and symmetrical, but free-form sculpture one lives in. Burrows are an artform, stimulating quite as much foxtaur talk and attention as sex--and sex, as I've said, is both more public and more complex than human sex.
So is this second sketch just a nude anatomical study, or an erotic portrait? Nudity itself means nothing among foxtaurs, of course, with their elegant pelts. They don't even wear much jewelry, let alone clothes (either could snag on roots or stones in their labyrinthine burrows.)
But yes, it's erotic, and strongly so: her stance proves it. This vixen had to be powerfully turned on by modeling for the piece: for a taur to raise her tail like this in public is more than flirtatious. An invitation to foresex might mean casual excitement, but hindsex is the ultimate intimacy; her gesture expresses deep excitement--and deep trust.
THE SCULPTURE is red clay, unfired (so far; I hope to change that, for it's quite fragile as is; but I don't have easy access to a kiln right now). The figure's quite small, just 25 cm long and 15 tall (10 by 6").
There's no armature (a 'skeleton' of wood or wire)--she's pure clay. Probably the figure would have been stronger if I'd made an armature, but I wasn't sure of my proportions at first and didn't want to box myself in. Redoing an armature can turn into nasty bone-sawing. Too easy to kill the patient!
Sorry the background is so busy; I couldn't find a plain dark cloth big enough. It'd have become busy anyway, pretty fast; the soft raw clay left dust and crumbling bits all over. In fact one of this poor vixen's hind legs cracked off during the shoot and had to be mended afterward. So fragile! Hope I can bake her soon. Though these close-up photos tell me I should go back and rework some details...
I mean, don't you wish that reckless deity who supposedly molded us out of clay six thousand years ago had paid for some Darwinian beta-tests before popping us in the kiln?
With us around, I'm afraid my poor foxtaurs are no competition for Half-Baked Species of the Year.
TEN YEARS LATER...
I never did get access to a kiln to fire the vixentaur. She and two kindred raw clay figures worried me the whole time. So fragile! At last, this year, I decided I had to do something to protect them. I made all the changes I ever planned to--reshaping the Sphinx in Heat, and re-engineering the Lebbird Ecstatic, the most fragile. The Vixentaur, too, broke a leg just from moving her; I mended this, and did a little detail work on her face, lips and eyes. But I left her odd sideways slouch alone.
Then I painted on many layers of matte acrylic varnish--two layers a day for a week. These sank into the clay and mixed with it, drying into a tough but slightly flexible skin.
Next I polychromed her in acrylic--again in many layers, for added strength.
A final layer of matte varnish to get rid of reflections, except of course on eyes, nails, lips, and other shiny, wet, excited bits...
Tree of Time
Columns are a Girl's Best Friend
The vixentaur's still less robust than fired terra-cotta would be, but now she's strong enough to lift, carry and even pose rather acrobatically--as you can see below.
Love in the Grass
The theatrical backdrops are quilts by fabric artist Joy-Lily. These staged dioramas are a trial run for a role I think Vixentaur will be playing on an alternate Earth I'm building, called Abyssia; there, a centauroid bodyplan will be the norm, with at least three intelligent mammals--foxtaurs, cattaurs, and equi, a deer-sized, equine 'taur--but also many intelligent birds with true hands.
Burst Through Old Snow
But I think I may have to simplify Abyssia's sexuality back to an Earthlike two-parent pattern. Absyssia already has three big changes for readers to assimilate: avian- not mammal-dominated civilizations (or at least parity), six-limb vertebrates, and geographical inversion (Abyssia is Earth with altitudes & depths reversed: the Himalayan Trench, the Mariana Mountains, the African Ocean, the continent of Atlantis...)
Four seems a bit much. Chocolate-fish-blueberry-mooseturd pie! A challenging recipe the adventurous will find interesting, even delicious... if the cook has the sense to omit the mooseturd.
My recipes lean toward baroque, I know. But I do try not to fall in.
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