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Annual General Meeting November 2014

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 December 2014 By Charles Gatt Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Annual General Meeting of The Maltese Historical Association was held at 7.30 pm on Tuesday 18 November 2014 at the Maltese Community Centre, 477 Royal Parade, Parkville. A summary follows:

 

 The AGM was well attended, with 25 members present.  After receiving a number of apologies, Charles Gatt, the Secretary, read the minutes of the last AGM and SGM.  Joseph Borg then gave the President’s Annual Report, which will be posted to the MHA website shortly. 

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October 2014 Event: Malta between the 15th and 18th centuries; an overview from a historical and social perspective (Part 2)

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 December 2014 By Administrator Saturday, 01 November 2014

Presentation by George Portelli

George introduced the evening by reviewing his previous lecture, and then explained how the names of some early villages started with Ħal, as in Ħal-Qormi or Ħal-Zebbuġ. Ħal is short for Raħal, which comes from the Arabic Rhal, meaning a stopping place after a journey.  They were used by farmers walking their merħla (flock of sheep).  Eventually these resting places developed into razzetti (farmhouses), then hamlets, villages and towns.  In Gozo, this did not apply, because of the many invasions by the Barbary Corsairs, especially when they were based in Comino.  The inhabitants of Gozo tended to cluster around the main citadel of Rabat.  No towns in Gozo begin with Ħal.

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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”.

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 November 2014 By Charles Gatt 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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Special Event: Tuesday 5 August

By Charles Gatt Sunday, 29 June 2014

 

 

 

Special event: Dr Consiglia Azzopardi, “From Craft, to Industry, to Art”.

7.30 pm Tuesday 5th of August at the Maltese Community Centre, Parkville

Dr Consiglia Azzopardi was born in Għarb, Gozo in 1946. She learnt Maltese bobbin-lace as a child, at home from relatives, and from the neighbourhood where the crafts were widely practiced on doorsteps, in alleys and in sheltered street corners.  ‘Bizzilla’ – as it is known in Maltese – became her favourite hobby until she graduated as a Primary school Teacher and then started to teach lace-making courses run during the summer holidays.

Teaching lace-making at the Girls’ Trade School, and later at the Gozo School of Arts, brought Consiglia into contact with lace-makers from the different villages in Gozo and Malta, who produced ‘pricking patterns’ from all over the Island.  Since 1995, she has been teaching Maltese lace at the University of Malta Gozo Campus. During this time she instigated a Certificate and a Diploma course under the auspices of the University. This created an opportunity to start collecting material and information, before it was too late, at a time when the lace industry was declining rapidly.

Meanwhile, a study of the history of Maltese Lace was undertaken.  At the University of Malta, she read for an M.Phil degree with the theme ‘Antique Maltese lace of the Time of the Knights 1530 – 1798’, and later for a Ph.D. researched ‘Maltese Lace of the 19th and 20th Centuries’.  From these studies, several stages in the development of Maltese Lace-making techniques were discovered. A profile of the promoters responsible for such renovation was formulated, and the main artists working in the field were identified. The role of the lace merchants and the network of trade in Maltese lace were revealed. All aspects were entrapped in the political, social and cultural life of Malta with special emphasis on Gozo.

Consiglia is the author of three books about Maltese lace making, namely:

Gozo Lace: An Introduction,

Gozo Lace Selection of Designs by Diacono, and

L-Istorja tal-Bizzilla fil-Gzejjer Maltin.

Her lecture is titled ‘From Craft, to Industry, to Art’

Dr Azzopardi will be speaking about the history of Maltese Lace-making.  She will discuss the tools of the trade and the various patterns used. She will concentrate mainly on 19th Century lace-making styles, greatly promoted in Gozo.  These include motifs in a Moorish design, called ‘Festuni’.  Strips of a sequence of these motifs, usually constructed in a round shape, may be sewn together to form all sorts of shawls, stoles, tops, bedcovers, etc.

The most common design of motifs are ‘star’, ‘flower’, ‘sun’, ‘palm’, ‘moski’, and the most important ‘Maltese Cross’.

Dr Azzopardi will be displaying some of her works on the evening.

 

 

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

Last Updated on Monday, 14 July 2014 By Charles Gatt 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

By Agnes Cauchi

 
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

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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