According to Aztec legend, the Xoloitzcuintle came about when the god of death, Xolotl, created a dog from the Bone of Life. Xolotl gave the dog to Man and instructed him to guard it with his life. In exchange, the dog would guide man through the underworld on the way to the heavens.
I got thinking about this idea of passing through the underworld and needing a guide. It pops up in a few other mythologies (Egyptian, Greek) and when I find commonalities between mythologies, I try to connect it to a deeper, universal existential sentiment.
We all go through hell. We all have that worst time in our life. And going through that time and coming out the other side can significantly change you. I know it did me.
And then we are reborn. A new cycle begins and somehow that journey through hell was an important part of your evolution story that gets you to an even better place. And so I'm thinking about life and death, dark and light, the old and new self. The dog on the right is actually a revisit of my old style and the way I used to draw 6 years ago. What do we retain of our former selves? How do we keep our humanity and core self in tact while we transform? What do we reflect on? What what is our Xolo dog, literal or psychic, our helper and guide in our Hero's Journey that we can hold on to to come out the other side?
And so sometimes you have to go through hell to be reborn.
The Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog) featured in both Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's work, not to mention inhabiting their homes. This breed of dog is considered one of the first to be domesticated by humans, dating back 3000 years. They are not known to share genes with any other registered dog. Their hairlessness is caused by a recessive gene and only 1 in 5 is actually born hairless, making them fairly rare. Considered to be therapeutic and intuitive healers, Xolo dogs almost went extinct in the 1900s as they were buried alive with their owners as well as eaten by the Spanish. They naturally produce heat and were once used as hot water bottles to treat muscular and arthritic pain. There are about 4000 registered xoloitzcuintli in the world today.
They are known for being extremely noble, loyal and protective.
Painted at UNAM, FAD, Mexico City for CIMU Festival.