Title: Dog Effigy Vessel

Date: 300 BC – AD 500
Culture: Comala Style (Colima, Mexico)
Material: Earthenware
Size: 7.5” H x 5” W x 10.5” L
Credit: Gift of Dr. James Cherry
On View: No

Ancient West Mexico was home to a cultural tradition that rivaled its contemporaries and later developments throughout Mesoamerica. The elites of ancient West Mexico were often buried in specially constructed shaft tombs that included several subterranean rooms. These tombs were often filled with an incredible amount of ceramics. Some were simple household vessels that may have held food for the deceased to use in the afterlife. 

Other ceramics were much more elaborate and were in the shape of plants or animals. Many of these effigy vessels were in the shape of a small, chubby dog with stubby legs. Archaeologists believe these vessels were modeled after the Xoloitzcuintli, a domestic breed native Mexico and an ancestor of the modern-day Chihuahua. Dogs were seen as spirit guides and it is possible that these effigy vessels may have served a similar purpose for the deceased.