The Indalo Man Rock Art and why it’s Important Today

In southern Spain, especially the Almeria region, there is a symbol which can be seen everywhere.

If you look carefully, this representation adorns store fronts, home entries, sculptures, parks, tee shirts, jewellery and even government letterheads. In fact, it is a recognized symbol for Almeria.

If you hadn’t guessed by now, we referring to what is known as the Indalo Man.

The Indalo was adoped by the town of Mojacar as its good luck talisman, In the northern reaches of Almeria Region, within the Sierra de Maria Natural Park (Velez-Rubio), one can find the original source of the Indalo Man Cave Painting.

This rock art was first discovered in 1868 and is believed several thousand years old.

The representation is of a human stick figure standing with arms extended, holding a rainbow overhead perhaps as protection from evil or an offering.

Some say the Indalo Man was just a hunter with a bow and arrow.

Yet many ethnographers believe that this gesture involving a rainbow has long corresponded to notions of good luck, enlightenment, truth and wisdom. Rainbows have a long tradition of being attached to metaphoric and symbolic meanings.

The early Christian Bible for example, allegorically suggests that God created a rainbow as a sign to Noah that there would never again be a worldwide flood. The Peruvian Incas believed rainbows were an omen of victory over adversaries.

Rainbows have been emblematic of many cultures and organizations– from gay pride to worker unions to Buddhist and Jewish belief systems.

Typically, rainbows are symbols of diversity, trust and confidence and portend themes of better days ahead with good luck.

So what about this? What does the Indalo Man have to do with today? Does the legend tell a larger story?

If so, how is it applicable to us here in southern Spain in 2012? Consider…

The economic crisis, “La Crisis”, is certainly not news to anyone in this part of the world. It is omnipresent and for far too many, an everyday reality.

Last week, London’s respected Financial Times called the economic situation here in Spain a “crisis of enormous proportion.” Very strong words indeed!

Verbiage such as an “imminent economic recession’’, “sovereign default”, and “a geopolitical crisis” all have contributed to the media’s endless drumbeat of negativity surrounding Spain’s situation.

What we must not forget however, is that this is nothing new.

Before, during and after the days of Indalo Man a tidal wave of cultures — the Copper and Bronze Age Agrarians, Iberians, the Celts, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Muslims and Christian have settled and left indelible marks on the Iberian Peninsula.

For a thousand different reasons these cultural changes have always exhibited prosperity and decline, with zeniths and depressions too numerous to mention.

This forward march of an infusion of differing bloodlines has given the Spanish character an ever-changing hybrid vigor.

It is a fundamental element in the Spanish make-up.

To think that a “weakened Euro” or “austerity measures” or something benign as a “structural reform” will be fatal to the progression of the Spanish legacy is folly.

This is what the Indalo Man is trying to tell us: “Better days are ahead! Have confidence!

There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

There is always sunshine after rain!” It is no accident that perhaps the oldest known iconic representation of good luck and the possibility of better times ahead, is in fact, native to southern Spain. This too my friends, shall pass….

Photo credit: Indalo Art

Us citizen Jack is spending the first years of his retirement in Almeria. His articles have been published in Spain and the US.

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