Pre-Columbian, Western Mexico, Colima, Protoclassic period, ca. 100 BCE to 250 CE. We have seen quite a few Colima puppies in our day, but this example is particularly exemplary! The finely burnished redware canine is laying upon his back legs which are folded beneath his body while his front legs are raised a bit and his tail is curled behind. His visage is quite expressive with coffee bean shaped eyes, incised flaring nostrils on his pointy snout, and an open toothy muzzle. Take a peek at the underside of this doggy and it will become clear as day that he is a he, because the sculptor went to the effort of delineating his genitalia between his rear legs. While to our eyes this dog's barking may signify that he is ready to play, the ancient Colima sculptor more likely intended to depict a very loyal puppy - serving as a watchdog and barking to protect the deceased in the afterlife. A very special canine, quite alert with perky ears and a wagging tail! Size: 10" L x 6.625" W x 8.625" H (25.4 cm x 16.8 cm x 21.9 cm)
Scholars know of at least two types of Colima dogs, one to be fattened up and ritually sacrificed or eaten and one to serve as a watchdog and healer of the ill. This plump hairless canine known as a Chichi or Escuintla is thought to be related to the Chihuahua or Mexican Hairless also known as the Xoloitzcuintle. The Xolo dog was named for the deity Xolotl, the God of the Underworld, and believed to guide the deceased as they journeyed to the afterlife. Colima vessels such as this one were buried in shaft tombs to protect the deceased and provide sustenance for eternity.
See a similar Colima puppy assuming a comparable pose in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA, 200 B.500).
Provenance: ex-private southern California, USA collection
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Normal scuffs to surface and minute nicks to peripheries commensurate with age. Head was reattached, a bit of resurfacing to the tail and underside of one foot, and a possible repaired probe hole on body. All repairs are well done and very difficult to see. Covered with manganese deposits and nice burnishing marks.