Pre-Colombian America
Mexico ­/ Guatemala - Olmecs Maya (1200 BC - AD 1550)



Object :
Nº 1049
Medium :
Terracotta Ceramic
Dimensions :
Height: 23.5 cm (9.2’’) - Length: 33.5 cm (13.1’’)
Bibliography :
Published in "Collecting Masterpieces" Part One by Beryl Cavallini, page 133

Description :

Varnished ochre zoomorphic ceramic of a fat and jowly dog, which used to be the guardian of a crypt. He is presented showing his fangs, with big straight ears. The skull of the dog is surmounted by a high wide opening, so that Shamans could drink beverages with hallucinogenic properties from it. Excellent state. Signs of an old re-gluing on the right ear barely visible.

This dog was called Xolo (pronounced showlow) after the Aztec god Xolotl and it may have come in very remote era from Ecuador or from Peru. It is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, since it was already established in Mexico in 1300 BC. Fat and incredibly chubby-cheeked, as befitting the guardian of a sanctuary, he displays his fangs and his large pricked-up ears as an expression of liveliness. He has a polished, shining look and is hairless, as these dogs are born naked. On top of its skull, a wide neck allowed Shamans to fill it with hallucinogenic beverages. The ancient Mexicans considered the dog to be the best guardian for the dead on their voyage to the beyond, and the protector of the ill. They also greatly appreciated it for its meat, which was eaten at banquets. The region bordering the Pacific Ocean saw the births of three great styles of Mexican pottery - Colima, Jalisco, and Nayarit. It is under the Preclassic period, at the end of the AD 3rd century, that an interesting tradition of funerary ceramics developed, depicting with equal delight ritual scenes and scenes from everyday life. Colima pottery is always of a great naturalism and doesn’t hesitate to depict all sorts of animals with an excellent dexterity. Although the iconography of the fat dog is not rare, I must admit that I have never found examples in the great museums of such quality and power. This one is simply astounding.