Lace making is one of Malta’s most precious traditions. Originally associated with nobility, it is now considered a highly valued commodity.
The local tradition of lace-making, or bizzilla, is alive and well in Malta and Gozo. A stroll through the streets of any small Gozitan town will likely bring with it the sight of local women on their doorsteps engrossed in this beautiful tradition.
Dating back to the time of the Knights of St John, ornamental lace was introduced as a fashion accessory, to embellish the clothing of nobles and the aristocracy. The Maltese quickly became deft at this craft and produced fine examples of lace, used by high society and the clergy. As with other local crafts, the motif of the Maltese Cross was added to the lace to make it uniquely Maltese.
Following a decline and subsequent revival of the art during the British period, lace-making became sought after by locals as well, further spurring demand. Today, Maltese lace is a highly valued commodity and rarer examples of the craft fetch excellent prices at auction.
If lace-making isn’t your cup of tea, the process of lace-making is still a fascinating one to watch. If you don’t come across this craft being practiced in Gozo, you can visit the lace-makers in the Ta’ Qali crafts village where this beautiful tradition is on show.