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    SNAJJA TA' L-IMGHODDI

    IX-XOGHOL TAL-GUMMAR

    gummarFl-imghoddi kienu jaqtghu l-weraq ta' din il-palma, li ghandha weraq jinfethu bhal imrewha, izda din spiccat bdew juzaw weraq ta' palm iehor. Ftit ghad baqa' min jahdem bil-gummar, billi issa qed juzaw weraq tal-palm.

    Fi zmienna, ukoll, jimpurtaw xi materjal iehor li jistghu juzaw. flok gummar. Bil-gummar (biex nibqghu nsejhulu hekk) jaghmlu kpiepel, gwielaq u qabel ukoll xkupi. Biex jinhadem, il-weraq tal-palm irid Iewwel jitnehhielu z-zokk, u I-weraq jinqatgbu bicciet dojoq twal. Dawn il-bcejjec jibdew jinhadmu bhal meta jaghmlu I-malja tax-xaghar jew malja ta' I-ispag, billi jibdew tfiet u kohtra I-ohra.

    Malajr johrog it-tul, qisuzigarella twila, jew malja catta, dejjem titwal; din jghidulha trizza jew dafra. B'din kienu jlestu tulijiet twal hafna, biex bihom jahdmu madwarha t-trizza, u jhetuha blimsella waqt li jdawru. Din tiehu I-ghamla tal-qurriegha tal-kappell, u fl-ahhar jaslu biex jaghmlu I-falda jew id-dawra t'isfel nett.

    L-ghamla tar-ras kienu kpiepel u I-gwielaq. Qabel juzaw din id-dafra jew trizza, iqasqsulha truf ta' weraq li jkunu ghadhom barra mill-gnub.

    Biex jaghmlu kappell, I-ewwel jiehdu l-mizura tad-clawra tar-ras tal-klijent, billi jdawrulu bicca spaga jew kurdicella jew karta, u jimmarkawha. Isibu blokka gebel forma tal-qurriegha tal-kappell li taqbel mad-daqs tar-ras talklijent, u mbaghad jibdew idawru jsabhuha permezz ta' daqqiet b'bicca ghodda waqt li tkun fuq il-gebla.

    Gie li anki kienu jahdmu kpiepel kbar b'zewg toqbiet biex ilibbsuhom lill-bghula u z-zwiemel kontra x-xemx waqt ix-xoghol. Kienu wkoll jahdmu hafna paljijiet bil-manku biex juzawhom fis-sajf minflok il-fannijiet. Kienu jaghmlu wkoll imriewah biex ikebbsu l-kenur.


    THE SHEPHERD FROM GOZO

    The local shepherd enjoys a quiet tranquil life. He is often a typical conservative type and is not fond of modern society's luxuries. However, his stress free life indulges a sense of curiosity amongst city dwellers who mistakenly believe that a shepherd's life is no longer compatible with modern society's stereotypes.

    The number of shepherds in Gozo is in decline. However, from autumn to spring, one could still encounter, from any of the sporadic cart tracks throughout Gozo's countryside, a shepherd here and there, with their dog leaping around a small herd of sheep and goats, all depicting a clear but typical contrast on the green background. The shepherd calmly waits in the shade, sitting on a stone chewing a reed, or lying lazily allowing himself to doze into a short nap. There are no wolves here in Gozo and a faithful dog is trained enough to prevent the herd from going astray.

    The shepherd's reward is cheese production. The cheese making industry in Gozo is a centuries old tradition and its successful secret is attributed to good grazing grounds. A bountiful production of cheeslets made from sheep's milk fulfils the simple shepherd's aspirations. Sheep are milked manually one by one and their milk is left to set in cheese forms that used to be made from dried stalks of rushes, also manufactured in Gozo. The nowadays-practical plastic receptacles have replaced the traditional forms, but the cheese-making process has not changed for generations. Cheeslets could be consumed fresh, sun dried, or else salted or peppered. Of course, all these cheese types are very popular in Gozo, with Gozitans proudly claiming each variety's origin. Besides, most of the cheeslets produced in Gozo are well sought even in mainland Malta.

    Cikku - A Typical Gozitan Shepherd

    Here is a narrative of a day in the life of one of the few remaining Gozitan shepherds.

    Early in a typical cool Spring morning, Cikku walks to the pen in the yard next to his home in Kercem. There lies his herd, a mixture of goats and sheep about thirty five heads in all, who become agitated and noisy upon his arrival. They instinctively understand that their master will soon take them to the peaceful pastures, southwest of this beautiful village.

    However, in the day�s early stage, the pastures have to wait. It�s milking time. Cikku clears an area in the pen floor, brings along his herd one by one, and manually milks each in a clean receptacle. This process takes more than an hour, and by the time he �liberates� the herd from its daily burden, the sun is already up and shining.

    Cikku then takes the milk and pours it into metal containers for Gozo cheese preparation. The cheese making industry in Gozo is a very long tradition. They are made from sheep's milk rather than goat's milk. The nowadays-practical plastic receptacles have replaced the traditional wicker forms. Cheeslets could be consumed fresh, sun dried, or else salted or peppered.

    It is not yet eight, when a couple of local traders call at Cikku�s place one after the other. They buy dozens of cheeslets, to transport in turn to Malta or to other Gozitan shopping outlets. Cikku takes the merchants to the roof, to show them his two large wooden canopies, covered with thin wire mesh. Both boxes were full of dried cheeselets, once, together with bread, the staple food of the average Gozitan. The three men stood bargaining for a while until they agreed a price and both went off with a cheese load each.

    After Cikku rid himself of the traders, he calmly went back to the pen and swept it clean of all straw and sheep excrement. Then he spread fresh straw on the floor, washed his hands and went for lunch. A full bright sunny afternoon is waiting.

    He puts a thermos flask full of coffee, some rusks, dried cheese and an apple in a sack and makes his way, sack on shoulder to the pen. Once again, the herd is in hectic frenzy, knowing it�s pasture time. With a sharp whistle he calls his dog to his duties, while lifting the gate bolt to let the herd loose. Cikku doesn�t need to lead the flock. All the sheep know the way to the San Rafflu greens, and dog and shepherd just have to keep a close watch from behind.

    Finally they arrive at the beautiful grazing grounds close to the cliffs overlooking Xlendi bay. Cikku fetches his usual place, a small rocky recess, where he throws his sack nonchalantly on the green grass and lies to have his usual siesta. There is little to worry about the herd. The sheep know where they are allowed to go, and in case one of them gets too adventurous, the faithful sheepdog will quickly address the situation.

    Cikku could stay endlessly there, relaxed and away from it all until the faint chimes of the Ave Maria could be heard in the silence coming from the distant Santa Lucija chapel. The shepherd�s day has come to an end. He sips his last cup of coffee, throws his sack on his shoulder, gives a sharp whistle and the dog instantly rounds up the reluctant flock. With a quick glance, Cikku checks that no lamb is missing and calmly paces his way home.

    THE TRADITIONAL BLACKSMITH

    Blacksmiths in Gozo fashioned items from iron and steel for the their fellow tradesmen to use in their work and also made things for household use since time immemorial.

    With forge and anvil, hammer and tongs, blacksmiths made agricultural tools for farmers and iron rims for wheelwrights. They also repaired many iron objects commonly used by local residents. Their skills with vice and file served customers as diverse as the miller, saddler, carpenter, and builder. From steel, the blacksmith made tempered cutting edges for axes and smooth faces for special hammers. Some of the items that a blacksmith made were: plough shares, door hinges, locks, chains, knives, nails, tools, horseshoes, hooks, cart parts, pots and pans, and tools for the fireplace.

    A blacksmith's forge, like those at Ta' Kola Windmill in Xaghra, consisted of a raised brick hearth outfitted with bellows to feed its soft-coal fire and a hood to carry away the smoke. He pumped the bellows and forced air through the coals in the forge. The more he pumped the bellows, the hotter the fire became. Once iron became red-hot he would use tongs to hold the metal on his anvil. Then he would hammer the hot metal into different shapes with his sledge-hammer. The metal was then cooled in a tub of water. With his apprentices, the blacksmith used sledges sometimes weighing as much as 12 pounds (5.4 Kg) to hammer the heated bars into the desired shapes.

    Local farmers and tradesmen relied on the blacksmith to shod (shoe) their horses, as horses needed shoes to protect the hooves. The blacksmith shaped the shoe to fit the horse's hoof, rasped the hoof, then burned and nailed the shoe on the hoof.

    With the arrival of cars, truck, and tractors the garage replaced the blacksmith shop. However, in Gozo a couple of blacksmiths are still seen busy hammering in their small-blackened workshops. There is a revival in demand for old-fashioned locks, hinges, curtain rails and iron gates for local "houses of character" (old houses), and traditional blacksmiths have enough work to give another life-span to this generations-long tradition.

    WEAVING IN GOZO
    weaving

    The origin and development of woven cloth is closely tied to the history of mankind. People learned to weave thousands of years ago using natural grasses, leafstalks, palm leaves, and thin strips of wood.

    Weaving is the process of making cloth, rugs, blankets, and other products by crossing two sets of threads over and under each other. Weavers use threads spun from natural fibres like cotton, silk, and wool. But thin, narrow strips of almost any flexible material can be woven.

    It is firmly believed that the Phoenicians introduced weaving and dyeing skills in Malta and Gozo. Since classical times, the Maltese Islands have been renowned for the excellence of the local cloth. Roman senator Cicero in his report refers to quantities of Maltese cloth that had been stolen. He also states that Malta had "become a manufactory for weaving women's garments".

    The cotton industry thrived up to the early 19th century before declining slowly by the end of the century. Because of the cotton plant, introduced to Malta by the Arabs, nearly every house had its loom, while girls were taught this trade at a very early age. Up to World War I, the Islands produced coarse and finer weaved cotton on traditional handlooms. Today, fabrics are produced by both hand spinning and mechanised means.

    The woollen industry remained small, but Gozo today produces useful heavy knitted garments and rugs. You will find a wide range of woollen and fabric garments and accessories including skirts, handbags, ties and wall tapestries. Meanwhile, there is an ever-growing interest amongst Gozitans to revive this traditional craft. Weaving skills are nowadays being regularly taught in appropriate courses for both adults and children at the Wistin Camilleri School for Arts and Crafts.



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