The true history of the Indalo, Indalico or Mojacar man
Tired of seeing so many erroneous articles about the infamous “indalo” man, the prehistoric cave painting appropriated by the Mojacar town hall for their unofficial logo, I thought I’d jot down a few facts about him.
The prehistoric cave painting that came to be the Indalo man was first identified by the local archaeologist Antonio Gongorra Martinez in 1868, when he published his book “Antigüedades arqueológicas de Andalucia”, based upon his study of a large cave in the north of Almeria that was covered in ancient paintings. It’s value and importance was confirmed by later studies at the turn of the century, and in 1924 the area was designated a National Monument of History. On the 5th December 1998 UNESCO declared it to be a World Heritage site. Currently, the cave is off limits to visitors.
This cave, known locally as the Cueva de los Letreros (Cave of the signs), is nestled among the folds of the Sierra de Maimon Grande, in Velez Rubio, in the north of the province of Almeria. While many caves nearby show indications of bronze or stone age humans living in them, this particular cave, due to the absence of normal living detritus, appears to have been dedicated to ceremonies of an animalistic religion. Dating of remains found in the area brings us to conclude that the caves were inhabited (and the paintings drawn) around 5500 – 6000 c.e. While a number of other caves in the area also have similar paintings, these are generally of an inferior nature. All the paintings are done with typical dyes found in the cave paintings process, and are generally red in colour.
The cave paintings have been described as enigmatic. Figures and symbols are repeated throughout, and human figures dotted throughout express a great sense of movement and expression. It has been concluded that there is an underlying symbology in the paintings, linked no doubt to the religious or ceremonious use of the cave. Archers, Sorcerer and idols are the figures that are most commonly repeated, along with animals such as mountain goats and deer.
Due to the fact that the most common symbol in the cave was that of a man holding a rainbow (the ancestor of our current Indalo man) local villagers took to daubing the outside of their homes with this symbol, converting him into a modern day superstition designed to ward off evil and storms. It has been said that after the Mojacar and Vera earthquakes, locals in these villages (which were both destroyed in the 17th century) took to imitating their northern neighbours who had escaped lightly.
It was in 1946 when Jesus de Perceval, painter and intellectual, disciple of the somewhat anarchic philosopher Eugenio d’Ors, adopted this local symbol as the flag of his new school of thought and painting, which took as its base the “vital position, the cosmovision of the Almerian, and the essence of ancient and past civilisations before our own”, in order to “continue the great cycle of reinnovation and reinvention of classical classicism as a movement that cycles for eternity”. (I may have lost something in the translation there, but even in Spanish it sounds like somebody was taking a lot of drugs when they thought that one up).
The Indalo figure became for these artists, based in Mojacar, a potent symbol of their unity, and eventually they adopted the name “the Indalo movement”. These Indalians saw in their symbol an ancient hero who by capturing and controlling a rainbow symbolised the pact between the Gods and Man to never again repeat the awful destruction of the Flood. This led to the Indalo symbol being identified by the world at large with Mojacar and this region in general.
The word “Indalo”, incidentally, is believed to come either from the language of the Iberian tribe, who lived in Iberia during the Classical era (aprox 600 c.e.): indal eccius (messenger of the Gods); another theory is that it is derived from the name of the Patron Saint of Almeria, San Indalecio.
In recent years, the Indalo has been appropriated by diverse tourist boards and PR companies who have turned it into the logo of first Mojacar, then the Levante, and finally of Almeria. Indeed, the official logo of the 2005 Med games was Indalete, a happy little fat fellow based on the Indalo.
Incidentally, despite the vast quantity of nonsense spouted about who or what the original Indalo was, it is generally agreed that in the original cave paintings he is no more than a hunter who uses his bow and arrows to bring down birds in flight.
Theories joining him with Egyptian gods, spaceships, South American Incas, or Zambian warriors can probably be ignored.
Photo of the original Indalo