No. 16.—The Chihuahua.

THE CHIHUAHUA IS a demonic creature of Aztec mythology, somewhat resembling a dog but impossibly tiny. It was the tutelary spirit of Toltec royalty, and adopted from them by the conquering Aztecs, who never stopped to think that it might have done the vanquished more harm than good. It was said that, if an Aztec prince was attacked, the high-pitched yelping of his tutelary Chihuahua would shatter the skull of his opponent. Indeed, the many solid-gold earplugs which Díaz del Castillo records as having been melted down after the Conquest attest to the pervasiveness of this myth among the Mexican upper classes.

Many curious stories about the Chihuahua are told by the superstitious Spanish missionaries. One writes of his failed attempt to exorcise a Chihuahua whose incessant yelping deprived the friars of their slumber for weeks on end; another reports having seen a Chihuahua with his own eyes as it gleefully tore apart the sumptuous tapestries in the governor’s palace. We may spare a smile for the benighted credulity of the monks, but we ought not to suppose that our own age is entirely free from such superstition. The Mexican state of Chihuahua was named for this mythological creature, which local lore insists still inhabits the arid wastelands of the Chihuahua Desert.

Allegorically, the Chihuahua represents Entropy.