Past Events

September 2014 Event: Malta between the 15th and 18th centuries; an overview from a historical and social perspective (Part 1)

By Charles Gatt Tuesday, 07 October 2014

Presentation By George Portelli

In his engaging, interactive style, George introduced the
topic by highlighting particular historical milestones prior
to 1436, such as the sacking of the Maltese Islands by
the Arabs in A.D 870, which was followed by a period of
total depopulation; the liberation of Malta by Count
Roger in 1091, and again by his son Roger II in 1127. 

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August 2014 Event: “From Craft, to Industry, to Art”.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Presentation by Dr Consiglia Azzopardi

The following article has been reprinted with minor modifications from the Notice sent out in August.  The full article with pictures can be seen in the September Newsletter.  

The special event on 5 August, From Craft, to Industry, to Art, by Dr Consiglia Azzopardi was well attended.  She gave us a fascinating history of the development of lace-making.  Following this, Mary Farrugia, who teaches lace making in St Albans, gave a brief demonstration of the process and we were treated to a display of various pieces of lace, some over a hundred years old.  We thank Agnes Cauchi for the following summary of Dr Azzopardi’s talk.  

History of lace-making in Malta – summary by Agnes Cauchi

Since the 16th century, lace or 'bizzilla' featured as a craft, then as an industry, and finally an art.  Back in 1619, Gozitan women were altering cloths bordered with lace.  They were also trying to retrieve old pieces from abroad!

How did these arrive in Malta?  There was a trade going on between Malta and Spain, Flanders, France, the Netherlands and Italy.  Malta was also exporting lace to these countries.

What is Maltese lace, as opposed to lace from Belgium, Spain, etc?  It simply means that the technique is different to other 'laces'. The pillow is different, the Maltese pillow is cigar shaped or 'trajbu', whereas in the other countries, the pillow was round, called 'tombolo'.  The bobbin method was developed in Gozo and designs were drawn by Gozitan artists. 

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June 2014 Event: Pietro Caxaro’s "Cantilena" by Joseph Borg

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The lecture on 17 June was well attended, despite the cold night. Joseph Borg spoke about the "Cantilena", the oldest known literature in Maltese.  

Mr Borg introduced the topic with a brief background of the Maltese language.  The earliest Maltese writers in the 12th century wrote in Arabic.  Later, Italian and Latin became the languages of the literati and official documents.  The various dialects of Maltese (Arabic with increasing influences of Sicilian Italian, Latin and other European languages) were considered the 'Lingua tal Cuccina'.  Writings in Maltese, such as Bonamico’s sonnet from the latter part of the 17th century, were unusual. 

However, in 1966, two researchers were surprised to find, in a book by Brandano de Caxario, a handwritten poem, which he attributed it to his ancestor, Petrus de Caxario who lived in the 1400s, two centuries earlier!  After carefully checking it for authenticity, they set about deciphering and understanding the poem.

The "Cantilena" is a song about a wall that collapsed, despite good workmanship, as it had been built on unstable foundations. The poet explains he must try again elsewhere to succeed.  Much has been written about the poem and its author and there are several possible interpretations. 

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May 2014 Event: Bushfire Summer & Malta in the Past

 
This month's presentation consisted of two parts. Firstly there was a book launch by Lou Drofenik, and after that Mr Joe Flores presented a photo show entitled: "Malta in the Past".
 
Lou Drofenik's new book is entitled "Bushfire Summer" . She is referring to the Black Saturday Bushfires of 2009. She wrote the book from her experience because her home was involved in the above-mentioned bushfire.  She explored the relationships between people in a small rural community such as hers following  their ordeal. The protagonist of the novel is a man of Maltese origin. Lou told us how she decided on this character.  
 

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April 2014 Event: Maltese Surnames and their Significance by Prof Maurice Cauchi

Professor Maurice Cauchi gave an interesting talk to the MHA on Tuesday 15th April, highlighting a number of interesting aspects relating to Maltese surnames.  His interest in surnames started some 20 odd years ago when he began investigating surnames as bearers of genetic traits – surnames are also inherited from the father!

 It is striking that in Malta and Gozo a few surnames are shared by a large number of the population. For instance, in some villages in Gozo, five surnames account for half of the total population.

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March 2014 SUPERSTITIONS AND THE MALTESE BOGEY MEN by ALBERT AGIUS

MHA - Albert Agius 17 March 2014Our Speaker for the month of March was Mr Albert Agius, a well-known personality within the Maltese Community in Melbourne. He acknowledged other learned researchers, in particular Ġużè Cassar Pullicino and Castagna before him, both of whom are strong pillars in the field of Maltese culture and folklore.

 He started off by talking about the superstitions and beliefs that our ancestors used to cherish.  The Maltese are not alone in believing certain superstitions.  Many people all over the world believe that  some misfortune will befall somebody who breaks a mirror or walks under a ladder.  Depending on the circumstances, something can be an omen of good luck as well as of bad luck.  

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February 2014: The Arab Years in Malta

Monday, 24 February 2014

mdinaOld medieval city of MdinaThe first presentation event of the Maltese Historical Association of Australia for this year was delivered by Joseph Borg, the new President of the association. He spoke about the Arab Years in Malta.

He started the discussion by putting the following questions:

  • What language was spoken in Malta prior to the Arab invasion of 870 AD?
  • What happened to the Maltese during this invasion?
  • Was Malta occupied during the years following the invasion?
  • What about Christianity at the time? Did it flourish?
  • What happened when the Normans arrived?
  • What people resettled Malta and were did they come from?
  • What is the origin of today's Maltese and of place-names?

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November 2013: Maritime heritage of the Maltese Islands

Friday, 06 December 2013

TimmyGambin400Dr Timmy Gambin

On Wednesday 27 November 2013 Dr Timmy Gambin from the University of Malta, gave a very interesting talk about The maritime heritage of the Maltese Islands: a fascinating past - an exciting future at the Maltese community Centre in Parkville. The talk was delivered in conjunction with the Maltese Historical Association.

The MHA special event was very well attended both by Maltese as well as by a considerable contingent of academics from universities around Melbourne. Dr Gambin took the audience through a maritime journey from the time of the Mediterranean seafaring Phoenicians to the present time. He also provided a detailed description about the geography and the archaeology of the Maltese Islands.

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September 2013: The Great History Debate

By Agnes Cauchi Friday, 27 September 2013

MaltaHistoryWhich period? (picture: www.maltatemplejourneys.com)

The MHA held its September event on Tuesday 17th. It was an unusual presentation - a debate on the topic of which is the most important period in Malta's history. Instead of one guest speaker, there were three: Prof Maurice Cauchi, Mr Joe Borg and Mr Albert Agius. Each one of them chose a period in the Maltese history and they tried to convince each other and the audience which period was the most important for Malta.

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August 2013 Event: City walk to admire street sculptures

By Agnes Cauchi Friday, 30 August 2013

MCG650Setting off on the city walk from the MCGOn a cold and wet Sunday 18 August a keen group of MHA members and others met Mr Joseph Borg, a sculpture engineer, led our guided walk around the city of Melbourne. The idea behind it was to appreciate some sculptures dotted around the City's landscape in which Joe had been involved in their engineering aspects.

We started from the new stand of the MCG and there Joe explained the structure and why it had to be so. The engineers had to keep in mind the safety of the public and how the wind plays around these structures.

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