Myths and function
Although often depicted in relation to the underworld, Xolotl was not a psychopomp in the Western sense.[further explanation needed] Xolotl did, however, aid the dead on their journey to Mictlan, the afterlife in some myths.
Xolotl was also the god of fire and lighting, sickness and deformities. He was the twin of Quetzalcoatl, the pair being sons of the virgin Coatlicue, and was the dark personification of Venus, the evening star. He guarded the sun when it went through the underworld at night. He also assisted Quetzalcoatl in bringing humankind and fire from the underworld. His two animal forms are the Xoloitzcuintli dog breed and the water salamander species known in Nahuatl as the axolotl.
In the Aztec calendar, the ruler of the day Itzcuintli (dog) is Mictlantecuhtli who is god of death and lord of Mictlan and the afterlife. Mictlantecuhtli is also represented by spiders, owls, and bats.
In art, Xolotl was depicted as a skeleton, a dog-headed man, or a monster animal with reversed feet. He was also the patron of the Mesoamerican ballgame. He is identified with Xocotl as the Aztec god of fire.
Xoloitzcuintle is the official name of the Mexican Hairless Dog (also known as perro pelón mexicano in Mexican Spanish), a canine breed endemic to Mexico dating back to Pre-Columbian times. This is one of many native dog breeds in the Americas and it is often confused with the Peruvian Hairless Dog. The name Xoloitzcuintle references Xolotl because, mythologically, one of this dog's missions was to accompany the dead in their journey into eternity. In spite of this prominent place in the mythology, the meat of the Xoloitzcuintle was very much part of the diet of some ancient peoples of the region.
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- Coe, Sophie D. (1994) America's first cuisines ISBN 0-292-71159-X