The Maltese Luzzu
Luzzu at mooring
One colourful subject that I painted again and again is the typical Maltese fishing boat called Luzzu. The first one I painted was a triptych of the fishing port of Marsaxlokk with a few of them in the background and one in the foreground. After that came another one from a photo I took myself on holiday and is of the front part of a moored vessel. I did some paintings of this subject after famous Maltese artists like L.M.Galea and E.Caruana Dingli and also I fancied painting a wrecked luzzu after a 2012 storm.
Suggett mimli lwien illi pittirt kemm-il darba huwa l-Luzzu tas-sajd tipiku Malti. L-ewwel wahda li pittirt kienet maqsuma fi tlit bicciet u kienet turi l-port ta Marsaxlokk b’xi lzuz fil-boghod u iehor mill-qrib. Wara din pittirt ohra minn fuq ritratt li gbidt jiena stess waqt btala u turi l-pruwa ta Luzzu marbut max-xatt. Pittirt ohrajn wara l-opri ta artisti magharufa Maltin bhal L.M.Galea u E.Caruana Dingli. Fettilli wkoll darba npitter luzzu mfarrak wara maltempata fis-sena 2012.
Model of Italian Gozzo
Model of Spanish Llaut
Although the Maltese luzzu is very conspicuous in its bright colours which distinguish it as Maltese, like many boats from neighbouring countries it was derived most probably from the Punic seafarers who traded all over the Mediterranean. Similarly we can find the Llaut in the Balearic islands; the Gozzo in Ligure, Napoli and Sicily and also ones in Greece and N Africa even out of the Mediterranean basin in Portugal. Some of these have a few similar characteristics to the Luzzu especially in the way they are built. The name Luzzu some say comes from the Sicilian Gozzo but I suspect that it also owes some origin to the Spanish name of Llauts.
Ghalkemm il-Luzzu Malti jidher hafna bil-lwien jghajtu tieghu illi bihom jintagharaf bhala Luzzu Malti, bhal hafna bicciet tal-bahar minn artijiet qrib kien imnissel minn tal-bahhara Punici li l-kummerc taghhom kien mifrux mal-bahar Mediterran kollu. Jixbah il-Luzzu nsibu l-Llaut tal-gzejjer Balearici; il-Gozzo tal-Ligure, Napli u Sqallija u wkoll ohrajn fil-Grecja, it-Tramuntana tal-Afrika u sahansitra barra mill-Mediterran fil-Portugall. Uhud minn dawn ghandhom xi dettalji bhal tal-Luzzu l-aktar fil-binja taghhom. L-isem Luzzu xi whud jghidu li gej mill-Gozzo ta Sqallija izda jiena ghandi hsieb illi gej ukoll mill-isem Spanjol Llauts.
The Luzzu primarily a sea vessel built out of wood with a double-ended hull which makes it very stable in all weather. It is painted in blue, yellow and green with streaks of white and red. The colours of the ‘moustache’ used to indicate which port they originated from. The gangway varnished or painted brown, is heavily decorated or engraved. The bow is normally pointed with a pair of eyes, an ancient Punic custom known as the Eye of Osiris said to protect fishermen at sea.
Il-Luzzu huwa l-ewwel haga bicca tal-bahar maghamula mill-injam bil-buq doppju li jaghmlu jiflah ghall-bahar qawwi. Mizbugh bl-ikhal, isfar u ahdar b’xi faxxi homor u bojod. Il-lewn tal-‘mustacci’ kien juri mil-liema port kien johrog. It-tappiera, moghotija l-vernic jew mizbugha kannella, kienet imsebbha bit-tberfil jew tinqix. Il-pruwa bil-ponta jkollha par ghajnejn drawwa Punika antika magharufa bhala l-ghajn ta Osiris li s-sajjieda kienu jahsbu li tbieghed il-hemm.
Three paintings of Lateen rigged Maltese Luzzu I did after Luigi Maria Galea.
Originally these boats were equipped with two masts and Lateen sails though nowadays the majority have inboard diesels. Up to the 1930s many a Luzzu used to ply between Malta and Gozo carrying goods to and from before the advent of the ferries. There are many left especially in the south of Malta, still being used as fishing boats. A few of the larger ones are nowadays converted for pleasure cruises, taking tourists around the islands and especially around the harbours.
Ghall-bidu l-ilzuz kellhom zewg arbli u qlugh Latini ghalkemm illum-il gurnata il-bicca l-kbira jahdmu bil-magni tad-diesel. Sas-snin 30, hafna minnhom kienu juzawhom ghat-taghbija u kummerc bejn Malta u Ghawdex sa ma beda jahdem il-vapur t’Ghawdex. Fadal hafna minnhom l-aktar lejn in-Nofs in-nhar ta Malta li ghadhom johorgu bihom ghas-sajd. Uhud mill-ilzuz il-kbar issa gew mibdula f’lanec ghat-turisti biex idawruhom mal-gzejjer l-aktar mal-portijiet.