JALISCO - Mexico

100 B.C. – 250 A.D.

Height: 16.2 cm - Width: 27.8 cm - Depth: 17.5 cm

Brown terracotta with black-brown slip, shiny surface


This superb creation is a masterpiece of Jalisco art of which there are very few comparable examples. The complexity and dynamics of the scene, depicting two dogs playing, turning one behind the other, testify to the degree of technical and artistic excellence achieved by the village societies of northwestern Mexico, which settled along the Pacific Ocean around the beginning of our era.

This extremely elaborate object, which can be qualified as a true sculpture, must have belonged to a ruler and was probably made to serve as a funeral offering. Buried alongside the latter, at the bottom of a well tomb typical of the region, it must have been sufficiently beautiful and resistant to lead him to the lands of the beyond and testify to his rank among ancestors and spirits.

Beyond its general quality, the theme of the dog corroborates this hypothesis. In pre-Columbian thought, dogs are guides to departed souls, responsible for guarding and preventing evil intruders from disturbing the eternal rest of their owner. In all Mesoamerican societies and myths, they occupy a central place in connection with death and rebirth.

The species pictured here is the Xoloitzcuintli, aka Xolo, a dog that is thousands of years old and has the distinction of having smooth skin. Domesticated by humans a long time ago, this breed, renowned for its calm, covers a wide variety of individuals: some majestic with athletic physique and others significantly smaller. In addition to being a good pet and a loyal guardian, the Xolo was once popular for a number of reasons.