Thursday, July 01, 2010

A New Indalo for Mojácar

The Indalo is a straight-backed figure with open legs and extended arms holding a half-circle over his head. A totem that started out as a protective agent that kept any bad luck away. Perhaps the half-circle is a rainbow or some kind of umbrella that keeps off the tempest, the thunder and the odd lightning-bolt.
The Indalo has been connected with Mojácar since the dawn of time and is more properly called ‘el pequeño hombrecillo mojaquero’ or ‘the little Mojácar man’. A crude painting over a door or perhaps some stones artfully laid in the ground to create the figure, people used it as decoration and for good luck. It is true that there is a poor copy of the figurine scorched on the wall in an underground grotto together with other cave-man daubs in the mountain village of Vélez Blanco, but our noble totem is clearly older – perhaps a rendition of a visitor – an early tourist perhaps – from another land.
By the 1960’s, re-christened as ‘Indalo’ by a group of Almerian artists based in and inspired by the singular beauty of our pueblo, the figure was easily recognisable across Europe, both as light gold jewellery and as a heavier cast iron decoration, as the Mojácar Man. We had one of the latter type bolted to the grill on our car and another one stood on the chimney of the house – sorting out any bad-tempered demon that dared to come close.
In around 1988, the mayor of Mojácar allowed an advertising agency in Almería to exploit the Indalo for various ends, and a new and somehow more modern version, by now a hump-backed totem twisted by a withered leg – the sort of thing that the Spanish artist Miró would no doubt approve of – soon appeared as the image for the entire province. Mojácar was rewarded with a brand new logo by the agency, a sort of mountain squiggle with a sun above it. Most original in a country like Spain. It didn't last any longer than the next 'moción de censura' when the mayor and his pals were ousted in a 'palace revolution'.
So we returned to the Indalo, unwillingly sharing it with the other 102 municipalities in the province, together with the region's tourist board.
But now, a new version has arrived to complement our medieval town with its narrow streets and stark white houses clustered on a steep Moorish hill under the clean blue sky. The entrance to our town has been dignified with a new roundabout crowned with a fresh interpretation of our good-luck totem. A one-legged figure in a permanent state of semi-tumescence.
But, ignore that. Look at its head.
This one makes me think of visitors from the stars. Perhaps that’s what an Indalo really is, a space-suited figure from the Planet Clunk.

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