Today I offer another interesting (and updated) post done for the A to Z Challenge. Several months ago, I came upon an old hand-crafted pottery dish at the flea market. I bought it for Día de los Muertos, our Day of the Dead tribute to the many friends and family who have passed away. Because of my research for this blog, I knew what it was the instant I saw it— a pair of xolos!
The dish sports two dog heads across from one another –one white and the other is the orangey color of the clay. I am by no means an expert on pre-Columbian art, but my dish looks old to me. I have it packed away for next October so I won’t go unwrap it all to take a picture for today’s post. The ancient dish shown here is similar enough to suffice. That said, mine is more of a dish with two heads, no stripes, and much shorter legs. I sure hope my flea market treasure is a reproduction and not an ancient piece potted from a burial. All sorts of tourist junk shows up online so it surprises me that I’m unable to find another like it.
X for Xolo the Xoloitzcuintli dog
(pronounced Sholo- eets- queently or just Sholo for short)
A documentary on PBS first introduced me to this dog called Xolo. I found the broadcast on youtube and originally added the clip to this post when it first went up. Alas, the video has been removed. Anyway… the portion of the program that caught my eye concerned a visit to a rural village in Mexico where an older woman with rheumatism demonstrated how she applies Xolo puppies to her arthritic joints. Yes, she applied puppies like heat packs.
If you’ve never heard of the rare Xolo, the dog is also called the Mexican hairless. I’d heard of the Mexican hairless before, but up until that program I thought hairless was a nickname for a short-haired chihuahua. The Xolo is actually an ancient hairless breed, one of the oldest on the planet, and it’s also the official dog of Mexico. Recognized by kennel clubs around the world, the Xolo comes in three sizes that range in weight from 10 to 60 pounds. They are bare overall with wrinkly faces. The small amount of hair they do have is seen on the end of their tails and on the top of their heads standing straight up like a Mohawk hairdo. Because hairlessness is a genetic mutation, litters often include furred puppies.
That’s one ancient pup
Some 3000 years ago, the Aztecs named the Xolo for Xolotl, their god of lightning and death. That seems like a pretty intense association for a dog, but it was believed the dog not only possessed healing properties for the body, it healed the spirit too. Having dogs in my life, I believe that’s exactly what dogs do. 🙂
The Xolo was obviously a popular dog among pre-Columbian civilizations. Undoubtedly this high standing is the reason they were frequently buried with the dead. I’ve read this was done in the belief that they would help the soul safely navigate the underworld and find its way home. I’m happy to say statues in the thousands have been found in burial sites throughout Mexico, suggesting pottery Xolos were ritually placed in burials and tombs to symbolically serve the same purpose. Infinitely better than burying the family pet.
Hairless heating pads?
Dogs generally have a body temperature between 99° and 102°, so Xolos aren’t any warmer than furred dogs. Their bare skin contact just feels hot to the touch. That’s why the woman was pressing puppies to her knee. 😀
Artist Frida Kahlo put Xolos in many of her paintings and photographs. Sometimes you have to look for them, but they’re almost always there.
There was a time when cards and letters exclusively told friends and family you cared. Vintage holiday postcards and greeting cards were often beautifully done things. That and the sentiment behind them were the reason so many were kept as keepsakes. From now until January, I’ll share vintage holiday postcards for you to enjoy.
Scroll down to see previous vintage postcards and learn how postcards became popular greetings to send, what is cost to send them, and about the big changes made after WWI.
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