Sunday, 28 August 2011

Reviving Traditions - Weaving in Malta

Weaving machine

I chose my favourite colour in stock!

lovely shades of thread

The artisan weaving

A unique work of art!

Learning about hand made parts of the weaving machine

Cotton bags 

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 Malta and Gozo today still produce small quantities of useful heavy knitted garments and rugs. A wide range of woollen and fabric garments and accessories including skirts, handbags, ties and wall tapestries are available. 

We realise that many locals have lost most of the knowledge about this ancient tradition and many don't know it still exists because of lack of awareness and education in this field. On the other hand tourist who come to Malta are offered an array of souvenirs, many of which are not 100% authentic.  To address these issues, Merill Eco Tours are organising tours and demonstrations to revive traditions and offer authentic hand made products to those who wish to own a unique work of art and support local artisans.

Feel free to visit our website:
Photos taken by Christian Borg


  1. interesting! In Sweden when i grow up, my grandmother used to do once a year a big thing for the entire family, we gather and helped out, coloring thread only using natural ingredients. I got such a amazing memory of dipping a whole bunch of 'lose raw' thread in big witch kettle :) of boiling water and then my grand mother told me: now dip it and go aside and slowly shake it like waves for a few minutes....

    I did and amazingly colors appear. And from different kettles there comes different colors when dipping the thread. I might overdoing this, cos i was just 10 yrs old, but for me its a amazing memory to see grayish white thread turned into red, blue, yellow...

    Weaving is quite common in Sweden, my grandmum had two big weaving machines, all done by hand. Every year by Xmas it was just to guess the color haha cos one knew that each present to us grand child was something made on one of those weaving machines :) in Sweden they are called: vävstol.. put in google select images you see ...

    thx for excellent reading!

  2. ahh just did some goggling, if you put this in: 'Växtfärgning' and choose pictures you will see the coloring i talked about.

  3. Hi Anna, thanks for posting this interesting info about weaving in Sweden. I saw the pictures on google...lovely stuff! keep in touch with Merill Eco Tours :)


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