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
The Indalo stands proudly in a street in Almeria city.
Rumours that the Neanderthal who painted the first stickman with a hoop over his head and painstakingly wrote the word ‘Indalo’ under his creation are probably false – or perhaps that was not the name of the subject, but rather the artist’s signature. I have also heard that the word comes from the Turkish and means ‘man with a tiny head and a skipping rope’. This may also not be true.
The name Indalo, according to what I hear, comes from ‘Indalecio’ (a reasonably common Almerian name). The first bishop of Spain was apparently both an Almerian and an ‘Indalecio’. The name was adopted by the artist group (José Perceval, Canton Checa et al) you mention and the totem was called Indalo. Hitherto, the only name it ever had was ‘el pequeño hombrecillo mojaquero’. The sign is certainly used in Mojácar long before the Indalianos showed up.
I looked up ‘Indalo’ in the 27 volume Espasa Calpe encyclopaedia from 1912: no mention.
The figure could be anything. It is even suggested that the one in the Cueva de los Letreros was painted there in the ‘thirties by an eccentric archaeologist called Louis Siret. One anthropologist tells me that it is a female protective totem. So – perhaps we should call it La Indala!
What is known is that the Indalo was the Mojácar sign until our worst-ever mayor (the one who is currently doing so much for Los Gallardos) signed it away to the Almería tourist authority in the late ‘eighties when places like Adra started painting a rather hunch-backed version of the totem on the sides of their trucks. In exchange, the ad agency that choops from the Almerian ayuntamiento gave Mojacar a brand new design – a sun coming up over a jagged mountain! So special…
The theory that I saw suggested that since the local priests couldn’t stop the yokels from painting the pagan caveman sign over their houses, they did the usual Catholic trick of baptising him and named him after the local saint (If you can’t beat em, join em).
The theory that he is a good luck figure for the hunt comes from analysis of the position of the figures, and always finding him under birds, or in the middle of a hunt.
I found quite a few Spanish theories that he’s Egyptian, since he’s similar to figures found in the pyramids. However, considering he’s a very easy figure to daub, I think it’s probably a coincidence.
I’m Getting him/her tattooed onto my wrist. I grew up in Mojacar. Can’t wait.
wee love youu
a lot xxxxx
Hi, having just seen my first image of Indalo man, my immediate reaction was that he has an aura,halo , bio magnetic sphere or similar representation around him/her.
My Mom lived on Mojacar Playa for ten years, (El palmeral Complex). !989-1999. She’s back in uk now. I spent lots of time walking them hills & cycling to Garrucha, for the Mail. My mom pointed out a ‘head of a Pharoh’ on a mountain face, seen from the coast road, between Garrucha & Mojaca Playa. (Only visible in certain Sun positions). I am a spiritual person; if you want to learn the ‘things that (really) matter’, Spend a few days here. NOT ALL AT ONCE!!! I’m prepared to reply to comments posted; and give Email address to GENUINE. Alan. Nottingham. UK.
I think the Indalo Man represents an ancient astronaut visitor
I would love to hear more Alan Haywood , having just returned from my first visit to Mojacar the old town has me hooked , felt a powerful spiritual energy there , my email : firstname.lastname@example.org
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Hi Alan, hopefully two years after your invitation, you will receive this message. I am intrigued about your spiritual experiences in Almeria and would like to hear about them. I also experienced a lovely unexpected soulful phenomenon while on a yoga retreat in Almeria in 2012.
I live in Nottingham, please contact me via email.