So, what are ninots?
The term is Valencian (a Catalan language) that could be loosely translated as child or doll. Essentially a ninot is a statue or figure that represents a person. The ninots are the basic element of an Hoguera (or Falla in Valencia). The whole Hoguera is an ensemble of ninots woven together with different elements (animals, geometric figures, stars, suns, moons, tools etc.) to create a giant figure according to the artist's chosen theme for that year. All brightly coloured, and all highly combustible.
Last year there were many cries amongst the readers here about a) how beautiful the Hogueras were, and b) how tragic it seemed that they were all destined to the flames! Well, not all. Two figures each year are chosen to be set aside, to live on as a reminder of that year's Hogueras de San Juan (they do the same thing in Valencia for Fallas). They are called the "Ninot Indultat" or forgiven Ninot. After the Hogueras are over they will find a home in the Museo de Hogueras (which I surprisingly have yet to visit!).
Here is last year's Ninot Indultat (from the "adult" section, I never found the one from the "children's section and I missed out on the exhibit last year):
|Ninot Indultat 2009 - Hoguera Hernán Cortés|
The title: Alicante, La Reina de las Fiestas (Queen of the Parties), by artist Manolo García
It belonged to the Hoguera Hernán Cortés which also won 3rd Prize in its category ("especial" i.e. those with the highest budgets). That was definitely my favourite Hoguera last year, you can click on the name to revisit it. ;o)
The details within the figure portrayed the various popular holidays that take place during the year, and the things Alicante is best known for (like our beaches):
|"Nuestro Mar" and "Moros y Cristianos"|
|"La Santa Faz" procession and "Fogueres" with two "belleas"|
|"Las Cruces de Mayo" and the "Semana Santa" processions|
Each Hoguera has two candidates for the Ninot Indultat, one from the children's Hoguera (Hoguera Infantil), and one from the main monument. So for this year that's 2 x 91 different ninots! How on earth do they choose?! Well for starters they are all brought together for 10 days in the "Exposición del Ninot" and grouped according to Hoguera categories (which are decided -for the main competition- by money spent on each Hoguera, not fair comparing huge budgets to microscopic budgets, is it?). Then the citizens of Alicante (and anyone who's visiting) can stop by and admire them all and vote for the two (child/adult) they'd like to see spared from the flames.
I stopped by yesterday, on the final day of the voting. They were set up in several rooms, one for the smaller ninots from the hogueras infantiles:
|Ninots de Hogueras Infantiles|
and a couple for the larger ninots:
|Ninots grandes de "Categoría Especial"|
I arrived just in time to admire them all (and hurriedly take some pictures, some like the above are a bit blurry... flash was awful and didn't have much time to fiddle with settings, apologies!) and see the ballot counting begin:
So over the next couple of days I'll share photos of some of these ninots with you (each day a different category, from 6th to 1st and the the "special" group) and give you a chance to 'vote', and then I'll let you know how your taste compares to that of Alicante. Deal? ;o)
I'll start off with two that aren't in competition. The ones from the "Official" Hogueras i.e. the ones set up in front of the Ayuntamiento:
|Ninot Oficial Infantil. Artista: Carlos Sampedro Moreno|
|Ninot Oficial: "Amor de Verano" Artista: Pedro Espadero|
That official one has got me worried as to what the theme for the Ayuntamiento Hoguera is going to be this year... I am not at all a fan of tauromachia... But since the title is 'Summer Love' perhaps it is just dedicated to summery activities that are beloved... and Summer in Spain means local fiestas galore, which sadly also mean toros...
Tomorrow: Ninots 6a Categoría.
And to whet your appetite, I leave you with a bit of video I took of the Ninots de Hogueras Infantiles, enjoy! ;o)