A luzzu (pronounced like lwtsw in Maltese) is a traditional fishing boat from the Maltese islands. They are usually painted in bright colours, while the bow has a pair of eyes. Luzzus have existed since ancient times.
The word luzzu derives from the Sicilian guzzu (which itself is derived from the Italian guzzo). A guzzu or guzzo is a common fishing or transport vessel used in Italy and Sicily. The plural of luzzu is luzzi in Maltese or luzzus in English.
Description and History
Luzzus are sturdy boats with a double-ended hull. The design of the Luzzu, like that of another Maltese boat, the dgħajsa, is believed to date back to Phoenician times. The design has survived because it tends to be sturdy and stable even in bad weather. Originally, the luzzu was equipped with sails although nowadays almost all are motorised, with onboard diesel engines being the most common.
Luzzus are brightly painted in shades of yellow, red, green and blue, and the bow is normally pointed with a pair of eyes. These eyes may be the modern survival of an ancient Phoenician custom (also practiced by the ancient Greeks); they are sometimes (and probably inaccurately) referred to as the Eye of Horus or of Osiris. They are said to protect the fishermen while at sea.
On 30 October 1948, a luzzu that was being used as a Gozo ferry capsized and sunk off Ħondoq ir-Rummien, Gozo. 23 people were killed.
Some luzzi have been converted to passenger carriers for tourists although the vast majority continue to be used as fishing vessels.
Gozo boats were also similar to the luzzu, but were larger and had lateen sails. They were used to ferry people from Malta to Gozo, and not for fishing purposes. Gozo boats are now practically extinct with very few still in existence.
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