Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Colima, Protoclassic Period, ca. 100 BCE to 250 CE. A very large and plump canine effigy vessel, highly-burnished and finely molded in lustrous redware and standing proudly on all fours, his rotund belly nearly touching the ground, his head alert with a playful countenance presenting perky ears, wide open incised circular eyes, a pronounced snout, and a thin incised mouth, all beneath a tall flared spout. The rotund body displays a raised spinal column bulging upwards and leading to a thick tail with a curled tip. A fabulous example that is quite sizable and full of character! Size: 12" L x 6.5" W x 9.875" H (30.5 cm x 16.5 cm x 25.1 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.
For a similar example, please see The British Museum, number Am1921,0613.1: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=658929&partId=1&images=true
A similar, slightly-smaller example hammered for $5,700 at Sotheby's, New York "African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art" Auction (May 17, 2007, lot 221): http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2007/african-oceanic-and-pre-columbian-art-n08320/lot.221.html
Provenance: ex-Harvey Sarner collection, acquired at Harlan J. Berk Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA
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Restoration to much of spout and right ear with some resurfacing and overpainting along break lines. Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, minor nicks to feet, tail, snout, ears, and spout, some fire-darkening to snout, with fading to some areas of pigmentation, and light roughness in some areas. Light earthen deposits within recessed areas, and great manganese deposits and root marks throughout. Old inventory number "M93" written in black on bottom of one foot, and old inventory sticker underneath abdomen.