Xoloitzcuintli, Frida Kahlo dog’s

aztecas, english, Frida kahlo, Mexico, rituals
Photopraph taken by Lola Alvarez Bravo (1944)

Recently, my eyes fell on photographs made ​​Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter of s. XX, in which he appeared with a young and energetic dogs, Itzcuintli. Frida and her husband, Diego Rivera loved them animals were known to had monkeys, macaws and even a deer; and xoloitzcuintlis entertained and accompanied their lives for a long time. Photographs were many of them, and herself reflected in his paintings several of these dogs.

Digging deeper on the breed and type of dog we go back no more and no less than Aztec times, and has not left me indifferent anything, because there are numerous references to this canid.

Xoloitzcuintli comes from the Nahuatl language and means “rare dog”. These dogs maintained a very high status within the Empire and its regional and temporal distribution ranges from Mexico to Honduras and from ss. VI to XVI after our era. This dog is characterized by a mutation that confers a dog hairless; but there is also a variety with the same. Perhaps this was as admired dog at the time by men. The remains found have been identified due to incomplete dentition due to lack of premolars and sometimes even canines.

Perro Itzcuintli y yo (1938)

The contexts that are associated are:

  • funeral activities
  • used as food
  • rituals and religious activities. The most important finding and numerous was in Chac Mool where 37 individuals were killed and buried in a ritual of new year is found.
Within the pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican world, the dog played an important role in society, as well as food, companionship, protection of live and dead character of myths and legends, as a component of traditional medicine, as a sacrifice, calendrical symbol, companions of gods and gods as such. Due to the high dispersion of uses of this breed is thought that a dog was not associated with the elite but who possessed high-level people.
The arqueozoologics evidence indicates that the origin of the Xoloitzcuintli was in western Mexico on the sixth century and from s VII begin to migrate toward the center, under the so-called “chichimecas migration”. It was not until the tenth, when the dogs come to the Yucatan peninsula under the trade contacts between the Maya area and central Mexico.
According to Francisco Javier Clavijero breed almost became extinct due to indiscriminate use of the Spaniards after the conquest, as the scarcity of meat led to increased consumption.
Xolitzcuintli representation in Florentine codex
Thanks to people in love with the animals and had great devotion for this race, if the husband of Frida Kahlo, which includes in its famous murals these dogs failed to disappear and we can admire today making us an idea of ​​its vast history.




CERBERUS: The Hades dog

english, greek, mythology, roman

This post refers to the Greco-roman mithology, fables and legends set to be lost in the time and I’ve always learned why some rites, ceremonies or actions are well in the present.

As indicated in the title, Cerberus (Greek: “guardian of the well”) was the dog of underworld where Hades ruled with his wife Persephone as subjects taking the dead.
After crossing the river in Charon‘s boat, and have paid for the trip with the respective coins that left them in the eye after his funeral, were Cerberus. They could not go back to living together once they had taken a meal in Hell, so the function was feared Cerberus guarding the gates of Hades, to ensure entry and stop living off the dead.

The picture of him was given most often was a three-headed monster dog, a queue formed by a serpent, and in the back, many snakeheads. The name of the heads was: veltesta, tretesta and drittesta (head left, right and third seed head).

Was chained to the door of Hell and souls terrified as they entered, but on several occasions it was possible through the doors teasing the animal. For example, when Orpheus seeking his beloved Eurydice that fell dead from the bite of a serpent, entered the underworld by playing his lyre and getting Cerberus to sleep peacefully.

One of the twelve labors of Hercules command Eurystheus was to look into Hell and bring him back to Earth. Hades allowed him to take it with the condition of Cerberus dominate without being hurt and not use weapons. Hercules fought him hand to hand, and almost got beat drowning. He presented it back to Eurystheus, who shies away, told him that it returned to its origin.

Cerberus, beyond being a mythological creature has deeper functionality, is a Psychopomp being, ie a being who leads souls to their fate: Death. Normally these animals were wild dog, wolf or jackal; hence Romans and Greeks consider dogs as messengers of the gods.

Not only were they who saw them as a guardian animal, but that’s another story …


– Grimal, P. Diccionario de Mitología Griega y Romana, Ed. Paidós .

Dogs (Canis familiaris): the Origin.

english, Paleolithic period, Wolf

In this post we talk about the origins of dog domestication. The most widely accepted current offspring of truest friend of Human Being is the gray wolf (Canis lupus), but how, when, where and why of their domestication is unknown.

It is believed that he separation between the wolf and the dog happened 100.000 years ago in different species, but was not until the Paleolithic period, about 30.000 years ago, when their domestication began. Aechaeological evidence are not enough at the momentbut the oldest fossils dated correspond to Goyet cave from Belgium (36.000 BC) and Razboinchya, a cave in the Siberian Altai mountains (33.000 BC).

The most notable differential characteristics of these dogs with a wolf are smaller skulls tham their ancestors  and shorter snout, this last unmistakable of domestication.

After several studies by P. Savolainen and this collagues compared the mitochondrial DNA of various breeds of dogs around the woeld, located domestication in East Asia, particularly south of the Yangtze River in China, contrary to what you thought about your domestication in Central Asia or Western Europe.

The evolution of the dog runs parallel of the human being, develop through mutual and beneficial relationship sharing space and food resources. There are two theories on how it began to domesticate dogs. A possibily explains that a group of hunters took several wolf pups to tame observed for their skills on the guard and hunting; and the other, more popular, explains the birth of agriculture and the development of settlements caused animals, sometimes with scavenger behavior have another chance to perception and thus began the domestication. New evidence corroborate this last: Erik Axelsson at the University of Uppsala in Sweden, has discovered that during the domestication of dogs selection acted on the genes involved in three stages of digestion of starch, mutating to facilitate the passage of totally carnivors diet to suit a centered starch diet. This meant that changes were made in the brain and nercous system, reducing, probably aggressive wolves and engaging in other communication with human, what made them become a Dogs.

I leave you with this gourgeous National Geographic documentary in wich over wolfs became dogs. And Man created Dog


– Savolainen, P. et al. Genetic evidence for an East Asian origin of domestic dogs. Science298, 1610 – 1613.