Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Peasant Costume 2

This is DH's handkerchief all bundled up with flowers and leaves that I have gathered here on Malta.  It is currently sitting in the steam room in our swept-up hotel room and I'm trying to resist untying it!
Below you can see samples of dyed cotton from the exhibition I visited on Monday.  You will spot some indigo, which was probably first brought to the islands in 1746 and was then used until the First World War.  Most of the dye colours are in the yellowy to brown range, from plants such as pomegranate, daisies, camomile, grass and then onion skins were used for the rusty orange colours.  Fibres were also used in their natural colours of white through to cream.
Here is a Gozitan dye pot, isn't it great?  According to the book accompanying the exhibition, "Peasant Costumes - Insights into Rural Life and Society", many villages here had at least one specialist "tintore" or "mghallem" making their living from dyeing thread which was a time consuming process.
My assumption was that the thread being used in Malta and Gozo by the ordinary people would be wool.  In fact it was cotton.  At one time all available land was given over to cotton growing and an area of half an acre of cotton could provide sufficient income for a family.  Cotton was traded between the local people in its various stages and finally exported as yarn into Spain.  In 1800 the annual export of cotton yarn into Spain was valued at half a million pounds sterling.  The country folk of the Maltese Islands used cotton for clothing and household textiles but may also have kept a couple of sheep and used wool for extra warmth and for filling pillows and mattresses.
This fellow is ready to go to market.  His cap, shirt and underpants are historically accurate reproductions but the rest of his outfit is from the 19th century.  He wears a cotton waistcoat "sidrija", cotton trousers "qalziet" and has a cotton pouch "horga" over his shoulder and a cotton sash "terha" around his waist.


  1. Can't wait to see your bundle. Be patient though as my best results have been when I have left them longer x

  2. Oh, can't wait to see how the bundle turns out - I could try something like this in Turkey in Sept

  3. Lis, that's exciting your dye bundle. Yes leave it as long as you can. Can you take it home and steam some more? The dye samples at the museum are interesting to see, indigo as well!

  4. wow, just like christmas- dont open it yet......

  5. Hi Lis, good to catch up with you and read the wonderful things you have seen. Looking forward to result of your parcel. Love to DH. Ros

  6. Thank you for sharing your holiday photos and look forward to more.

  7. That's exciting, you can take a little of Malta home with you!

  8. queeniepatch is now on blogspot

  9. onesmallstitch31 May 2012 at 15:49

    would love to have seen the museum exhibit. The stripe pattern on the man's blanket/shawl is interesting, the dark green would have been a yellow overdyed with indigo but wonder what the red is - madder??


I really appreciate your lovely comments, ideas and opinions, they make my day. Thank you for visiting Piece'n'Peace,
hugs, Lis x