Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Colima, Protoclassic Period, ca. 100 BCE to 250 CE. An amusing canine effigy vessel, highly-burnished and finely sculpted from lustrous redware. The dog's rotund body stands upon four stocky legs with a curled tail, its thick neck supporting its projecting head with huge cupped ears, a conical snout with an incised nose, eyes, and mouth, and a spout atop the domed brow. The assumed pose is typically interpreted as the animal readying itself to pounce. A lovely and lively example of fine shaft-tomb pottery! Size: 12.875" L x 6.25" W x 9.25" H (32.7 cm x 15.9 cm x 23.5 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 stylistically-similar example, please see The British Museum, museum number Am1921,0613.1: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=658929&partId=1&images=true
Another stylistically-similar 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: private Boulder, Colorado, USA collection; ex-private J. G. collection, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, acquired before 1975
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Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, minor nicks to tail, body, legs, and face, with some fading to red-slip coloration, and light encrustations, otherwise intact and near-choice. Nice earthen deposits, manganese blooms, and root marks throughout.