Published on November 23, 2010 by John
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In Aztec mythology, Xolotl (Nahuatl pronunciation: [ˈʃolotɬ]) was the god with associations to both lightning and death.
Although often depicted in relation to the underworld, Xolotl was not a psychopomp in the Western sense. Xolotl did, however, aid the dead on their journey to Mictlan, the afterlife in some myths.
Xolotl was also the god of fire and of bad luck. 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.
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 being the Aztec god of fire.
Xoloitzcuintle is the official name of the Mexican Hairless Dog (also known as Perro Pelón Mexicano in Spanish), a canine breed endemic to Central America 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 makes reference to 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 of the ancient peoples of the region.