Sue Burke (mount_oregano) wrote,
Sue Burke

The lucky Indalo

Spain's national science fiction conventions usually use a name that has a historic link to the host city, and nothing says Almería better than the Indalo. That's why Hispacón XXVI,, which will be celebrated in Almería from September 25 to 28, is called Indalcón 2008.

The Indalo has plenty of history.

If you poke around on the Internet and in local guidebooks, and if you read Spanish, you can find several stories about the origin of the symbol. A few of them get a little extravagant and seem to come from the Indalo Movement, but its members were artists, so what do you expect?

Most sources say that the Indalo is a prehistoric magical symbol of a person holding a rainbow, and it brings good luck. Other sources differ on certain details, but they agree in one important way: the story has a happy ending. The Indalo genuinely brought good luck to the hardscrabble town of Mojácar in southeastern Spain.

Almost all sources agree that in 1868, Antonio Gongónia y Martinez found a painting of the Indalo in a cave in Vélez Blanco in Almería province. It dates back to neolithic times, 2500 to 4500 years ago. Similar stick figures can be found in other cave art in the area, and it might really depict a hunter with a bow aiming upwards. However, one source insists that it's a fertility symbol. Another that it depicts a prehistoric god, and the rainbow represents the pact between god and man. Or maybe the Indalo is an ankh.

When the Romans came to that corner of Spain, some reports say they found the symbol painted on homes in Mojácar, and it is universally agreed that at least since the last century or two, residents painted a little stick figure at their doors and windows for luck and protection from storms, lightning, and the evil eye. Or maybe the figurine was a tau cross. No one quite recalls.

Without a doubt, Mojácar began to fall on hard times in the mid-19th century when the weather turned increasingly arid and the land became a desert. Residents left to seek their fortunes elsewhere, and only 300 people lived in the near-ghost town without electricity, running water, and telephone service. Then some artists arrived in the mid-1950s to found what came to be called the Indalo Movement.

Again, the stories differ about how it adopted the Indalo. The group, led by Jesús de Perceval, may have originally had a different totem, a supposedly ancient statue that proved to be a forgery, but either from the beginning or after they had to abandon the phony statue, the group chose the Indalo as its symbol. They began to create a colony of artists, musicians, writers, poets, philosophers, and especially painters.

The colony thrived, Mojácar gained renown, its economy grew, a beautiful beach attracted tourists, and its symbol became the emblem for not just Mojácar but all Almería. It's a great place to visit, and you can buy the Indalo on souvenir t-shirts, pottery, key chains, bumper-stickers, and jewelry.

By the way, tradition says that the Indalo will confer the most luck only if it has been given to you as a gift and especially if it is made of local gold. Bear that in mind when you go shopping.

What does the word "Indalo" mean? It just might have come from the name of a member of Perceval's group called Indalecio, but most sources say it was derived from the Iberian words indal eccius: messenger of the gods. Or it may come from the name of the patron saint of Almería, St. Indalecio, who brought Christianity to Almería in the first century.

Again, no one quite recalls. And no one seems worried about it.

Also posted on my website

Tags: science fiction, spanish

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