Work of Art: Parrot Effigy Vessel
West Mexican
Colima state
Parrot Effigy Vessel
circa 200 B.C.E.-300 C.E.
Ceramic with red slip paint
7 1/4 x 6 x 9 1/2 in. (18.4 x 15.2 x 24.1 cm)
Gift in memory of Dr. Franz Ebstein and Paul R. Villard

The animal most frequently depicted in Colima art is the hairless dog, today known as the Chihuahua but called xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-eats-kweent-lee) by the Aztecs of the fifteenth century. In addition to raising dogs as a food source, many peoples of highland Mexico believed that a dog accompanied a person's soul on the journey into the underworld. Discovery of dog images in tombs suggests they were intended as companions for the deceased.

This vessel is modeled in the shape of a parrot, whose tail is fashioned as the vessel's spout. Similar to the dog, the parrot may have had symbolic associations.

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