April 26, 2019

X is for Xana

        My theme for this year’s April A-Z Blog Challenge is fantastical creatures, celebrating my upcoming book, On the Virtues of Beasts of the Realms of Imagination.  Please check out my Kickstarter Campaign to kick this project over the finish line.

        From the end notes of the book: “The xana is a nymph or water spirit from the folklore of the Asturian region of northern Spain.  In addition to luring men with their beauty and their song, they frequently guard treasures, which they may occasionally offer to worthy travellers.  They are also known to leave their babies with human women as changelings.”

        So the xana is a pretty standard water nymph in most regards, similar to nymphs in legends all around Europe and most of the other continents, too.  Beautiful, watery young women that swim, sing, seduce, and lure men seem to be a fairly universal human preoccupation.  Of course I picked this particular variant merely because it begins with X.  (I know all my fellow A-Z bloggers will understand and sympathize with that!)  For my depiction, what occurred to me was that if humans are so curious about nymphs, chances are nymphs are equally curious about us.  Maybe they sing and lure people just to try to figure out what sort of creatures we are.
        Here’s the previous post about the making of this print.

        I really wanted to use xog for my X creature.  That’s a winged dog, which I thought would be tremendous fun to illustrate.  However, as the xog appears in a 2002 book by David Frampton (see it at the bottom of this post with lots more X-citing alphabet fun), I would have had to deal with copyright issues.  Ugh.  So I’m just sticking with stuff in the public domain.  But what are your favorite new fantasy creatures?  Pushmi pullyus? Orcs?  E.T.?  Nifflers or thestrals?  Godzilla or Mothra?

        Even for X, the alphabet of mythical animals doesn’t stop here.  Click the link to find more X beasts in 


[Picture: Freshwater Life, rubber block print by AEGN, 2016.]

7 comments:

Rob Z Tobor said...

The Xecotcovach Bird seems kind of cool in a Hey let's eat everyone sort of way.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Or at least "Let's eat everyone's eyeballs"? This one was new to me and I had to go look it up. You don't catch ducks destroying all humankind by eating their eyeballs. Just sayin'.

Sue Bursztynski said...

I quite like the little twiggy creature who hangs around with Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts. The niffler looked a lot like our critter the platypus, but you’d really gave to keep an eye on them - those things are thieves! You couldn’t take them into a shop with you. By the way, when someone first brought a stuffed platypus to England, everyone was insisting it was a stitched-together fake! Who knows what’s out there?

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

Well, it doesn't start with an X, but Hungarian folklore does have a winged wolf...

The Multicolored Diary

Deborah Weber said...

Oh I do love this print. I've always wondered what it would be like to be caught by the call of a siren. And I do love the idea of a water nymph possibly handing out a treasure - I can imagine overflowing treasure chests being sorted through for just the right thing.

Pax said...

Personally, I'm quite taken with the little frog. And I like the way the water ripples the artist's initials.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Sue, I like the twiggy creature, too.

Zalka, winged wolves are good! But possibly not as adorable as the puppies I was thinking of enwinging.

Deborah, you might consider the Odysseus method: have someone tie you up so you can listen to the song without being able to rush off and do anything destructive under its influence.

Pax, the frog is there for plausible deniability should anyone catch a glimpse of the xana while she wishes to remain unseen.