Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Colima, Protoclassic period, ca. 100 BCE to 250 CE. An adorable and sizeable hand-built pottery dog vessel with a flared spout emerging from atop its head. The highly-burnished vessel is defined by a quartet of attenuated legs, a corpulent torso, a curved back with a raised spinal column, and a perky conical tail. Incised coffee-bean-shaped eyes, a broad nose with drilled nostrils, perky ears, and a smiling mouth filled with teeth compose the stylized canine visage, and the entire figure is adorned in deep red slip. Size: 7.25" W x 9.25" H (18.4 cm x 23.5 cm).
The Colima Dog is one of the most enduring and famous symbols of Pre-Columbian art. These puppies come from the shaft tombs of West Mexico, where dogs were believed to assist the dead in their journey to the underworld. Although these dogs are often portrayed as fattened up for the table, they are also sculpted into a variety of playful positions, suggesting that dogs were also close human companions in Colima culture the way they are today for us. This particular Colima dog sits at attention, mouth wide open brandishing a toothy grin, and tail projecting behind his short back legs, ears perked up and eyes looking outwards at the viewer. Anyone who loves dogs knows this expression and the piece demonstrates how important the bond between humans and dogs was even 2000 years ago! This close relationship is reflected in the cosmology of Pre-Columbian Mexican peoples, where one story tells that the first man survived a great flood because of his friend, a dog, who helped him find both corn to eat and fire.
Provenance: private Los Angeles County, California, USA collection
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Restoration to portion of spout rim with some resurfacing and overpainting. Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age as expected, small nicks to ears, nose, rim, tail, legs, and base, with light fading to slip pigmentation, and some fading to finer incised details. Light earthen deposits within recessed areas and nice mineral deposits throughout.