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! First off, its scale is impressive - quite sizeable and corpulent with a very full belly! Also, in addition to the canine's finely burnished redware finish, there is its lively pose - standing on all fours with upraised ears and a perky tail - as well as its expressive visage with wide-open incised eyes, flaring openwork nostrils on its pointy snout, and an open toothy muzzle. While to our eyes his 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 wagging tail! Size: 16.75" L x 7.75" W x 10.375" H (42.5 cm x 19.7 cm x 26.4 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.
Provenance: private New York, USA collection (begun in 1966); ex Lands Beyond Gallery, 2004
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One ear reattached. Possible repairs to the body, but if so, these are very well done and difficult to discern. Surface is covered with manganese deposits, root marks, and burnishing marks. An outstanding example!