Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Colima, Protoclassic Period, ca. 100 BCE to 250 CE. A charming redware dog effigy vessel of a sizeable form and beautifully stone-burnished, creating a lustrous effect. The rotund canine leans forward, as though ready to run off, impressively balancing on the tip-toes of his stout forelegs and only one of his small hindlegs, the other slightly raised. A high ridge arches over his large spherical form, running from his lower neck around his posterior through his short curled tail and protruding circular anus and ending at his phallus. His long pointed snout features a wide toothed grin, a rounded nose with delineated nostrils, and two coffee bean shaped eyes, all topped with perky ears flanking a cylindrical spout projecting from the center of its head. An outstanding example from the Colima peoples! Size: 13" L x 6.5" W x 7.5" H (33 cm x 16.5 cm x 19 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.
Comparable Colima dog vessels, in which the dog is seated, can be found at Emory University's Michael C. Carlos Museum (1990.011.177) and Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (986-26-20/26156). A similar vessel without the cylindrical spout has been featured on "Antiques Roadshow" and appraised by Timothy Gordon during the episodes "Charleston, Hour 2" (#2008) and "Somethings Wild" (#2229).
Provenance: private New York, USA collector from 1966
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Repaired from several pieces. Small chip missing from reapplied phallus. A white collection label can be found on the bottom of his belly. Minor abrasions to legs, body, and head, with a few stable hairline fissures, and encrustations within some incised facial features. Black char mark on side. Remarkable remaining pigment.