Veracruz, Mexico, Dog Effigy Vessel

Veracruz, Mexico

Dog Effigy Vessel, c. 10th – 11th century 

hand-built ceramic, with colored slips, incised and burnished 

Gift of Geraldine P. Clark, 1977 (4452.1) 

The careful observation of life and artistry in rendering it in objects is superbly illustrated in this ceramic effigy of a dog lying on its side. Although the object is technically a vessel, the neck and lip also serve as a stand when inverted, and it is in this position that the imagery is most apparent and reads correctly. This beautifully modeled, incised and painted/burnished work, appealing in its expressive naturalism, may have served in this way as a burial offering rather than a functional form. The animal’s belly is swollen, and the posture—legs extended, head slightly raised—and facial expression that seems to indicate distress or pain, may indicate that the dog is ill, dying or about to give birth.