Ninots and Ninot Exhibition

The satirical figures that make up the fallas and how they become Ninots Indultats, saved from the flames by the public’s vote

Ninots are the free-standing figures that are part of a bigger falla composition. The word itself is Valencian for doll. These carefully-designed and painted sculptures are made with the intent to represent a character that relates to or exemplifies the larger theme of their falla.

Ninots, much like the fallas they are part of, can be adult ninots - therefore dealing with political and social themes apt for grownups - or ninots infantiles - made to be appealing to children.

Ninots on a falla infantil - Fallas Valencia
The ninots are the individual figures that are part of a larger falla.

Every year, almost 800 ninots (half for adults, half for kids) are displayed in an exhibition, called the Exposició del Ninot. The purpose of this event is to have the public elect their favourite figures, which will become Ninots Indultats. These are the sculptures that will be saved from the fire of the Cremà.

Now, if you really want to understand the spirit in which the ninots are made, it’s important to keep something in mind. Even though the aim of the exhibition is to choose the Ninots Indultats, the point of the sculptures, much like the point of the fallas, is always to burn. They are built with the intent to surprise, astound, and delight the public as statues, and then do it all over again as they burn.

The ceremony of electing pardoned ninots arises from a wanting to canonise the habit of keeping a few sculptures as a memento. It does not mean that the artists ever make the ninots to save them from the flames. Such a figure would surely be a work of art, but never part of a falla.

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