The dog in the myth and cult of the Guanches

In his Historia de la Conquista de las Siete Islas de Gran Canaria, edition of 1632, p. 103, Fray Juan Abreu de Galindo tells us that the devil often appeared to the inhabitants of Canaria and La Palma at night and during the day “as large woolly dogs, and in other figures which they called Tibisenas” (in Canaria), and “Irnene” (in La Palma). Needless to say, it is quite impossible to know the origin of this demonic spirit. It is well known that myths, beliefs, demons, gods, are cultural products. And it is clear that this big and woolly (unreal) dog could have existed in the country where the natives of Gran Canaria and La Palma came from. But did these dogs exist in the Canary Islands before the arrival of Europeans? I am inclined to think not. Today in La Palma, a group of enthusiasts breeds dogs with abundant, long, straight hair, which they call garafianos. These, of course, have nothing to do with those big, woolly, demonic dogs. These dogs are the product of recent matings between Collie and local mongrels with some remote German Shepherd.

In the book Los Guanches, by Luis Diego Cuscoy, page 108, we read, “In Tenerife, although we do not know of the existence of the dog in relation to the myth, it is an animal that is present in the cult of the dead. There is no chronicler or other ancient source that refers to the role of the dog in Guanche funeral rites. The archaeological excavation has revealed the presence of the dog next to the dead, probably the master. It would represent the role of the animal guide of the soul to the region of the dead. It is possible, almost certain, that the animal was sacrificed at the same time of the death of the master. The finding of the dog next to the master has been verified in several sepulchral caves of Tenerife, but it has been in the necropolis of Llano de Maja where next to the corpse of the shepherd, with a very complete set of funerary offerings – with necklace beads, awls, obsidian flakes, ceramics, fire axes, etc. – a skull of dog corresponding to a type of small size was found, with remains of mummification of small areas with short hair of a dark cream color”. “It was part of the indigenous diet, but on a small scale.”

In the book El Conjunto Ceremonial de Guargacho, by the same author, page 90, we can read, “The consumption of dog meat in the aboriginal diet is sufficiently proven”.

Manuel Curtó Gracia

Manuel Curtó Gracia

Propietario del criadero de Presas Canarios "Irema Curtó" desde 1975. Además de ser el criador de esta raza más antiguo del mundo, y de que sus perros sean la base de gran parte de las líneas de Presa Canario, también es autor del libro "El perro de Presa Canario ,su verdadero origen", del libro "El Presa", colaborador en periódicos, revistas especializadas, documentales, debates, programas de radio, televisión, etc.

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Manuel Curtó Gracia

Manuel Curtó Gracia

Propietario del criadero de Presas Canarios "Irema Curtó" desde 1975. Además de ser el criador de esta raza más antiguo del mundo, y de que sus perros sean la base de gran parte de las líneas de Presa Canario, también es autor del libro "El perro de Presa Canario ,su verdadero origen", del libro "El Presa", colaborador en periódicos, revistas especializadas, documentales, debates, programas de radio, televisión, etc.

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