January 8, 2014

0953 MALTA - Marsaxlokk and its Luzzu

Marsaxlokk is a picturesque fishing village located in the south-eastern part of Malta, with a population of 3,277 people. Its name comes from marsa (port) and xlokk, the local name for south east. The word is related to the name for the dry sirocco wind that blows from the Sahara. The Phoenicians landed here and set up trading posts during the 9th century BC, but evidence of habitation of the area are much older. The hill of Tas-Silġ, which overlook the northern arm of Marsaxlokk Bay, contains remains of megalithic temples, but also the remains of its use as a religious site, from the end of the 6th century BC to the 1st century AD, and also of the 4th century AD, when it was adapted to the new religion, Christianity.

Most of Malta's fish supplies are caught by fishermen coming from this port. Swordfish, tuna, and the popular lampuki are caught in abundance between spring and late autumn. On weekdays, the catch is taken for the fish market in Valletta, but on Sundays fish is retailed in the open on the quay (on the postcard). The fishermen use traditional fishing boats named luzzu (on the postcard), brightly painted in shades of yellow, red, green and blue, with the bow pointed with a pair of eyes, which may be the modern survival of an ancient Phoenician custom. The luzzu has a double-ended hull. A variant, the kajjik, is similar in appearance, but has a square transom. The design of the Luzzu, like that of another Maltese boat, the dghajsa, is believed to date back at least to the Phoenician times. It has survived because it tends to be a sturdy and stable boat even in bad weather.

This little village had also a crucial role in recent history, because here held, onboard the Soviet cruise ship Maxim Gorky, docked in Marsaxlokk Harbour, between 2 and 3 December 1989, just a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall and with two weeks before the bloody Romanian Revolution, the Malta Summit, the meeting between U.S. President George H. W. Bush and U.S.S.R. leader Mikhail Gorbachev to which the two have ended the Cold War.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the series Wild and Domestic Fauna of the Maltese Islands, about which I wrote here.

Marsaxlokk - Wikipedia
Luzzu - Wikipedia

sender: Ana
sent from Valletta (Malta), on 29.09.2013

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