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A Maltese luzzu

A luzzu (Maltese pronunciation: [lutt͡su]) 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.[1] The plural of luzzu is lzuz.

Description and History[edit]

Marsaxlokk Harbour with various luzzus.

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 and Egyptians); they are referred to as the Eye of Horus or of Osiris. They are said to protect the fishermen while at sea.[2]

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.[3]

The town of Marsaxlokk is especially famous for the large numbers of luzzu and similar craft operating in its harbour. The luzzu is often considered as a symbol of Malta.[2]

Some luzzi have been converted to passenger carriers for tourists although the vast majority continue to be used as fishing vessels.


A variant of the luzzu known as kajjik.

A kajjik is similar in appearance and function to the luzzu, but has a square transom instead of a double-ended hull. They are usually smaller. Kajjiks are also used in the regatta rowing race.[4]

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.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brincat, Joseph M. (13 January 2011). "Where the fishing boat got its name". Times of Malta. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b "The Luzzu - A traditional boat that demands attention!". Malta Bulb. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  3. ^ Attard, Eddie (28 October 2012). "The 1948 Ħondoq ir-Rummien tragedy". Times of Malta. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  4. ^ Serracino, Joseph. "Boats used in Regatta". Sport in Malta. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  5. ^ Muscat, Joseph. "The Gozo boat". Gozo Channel Line. Patrimonju Malti. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  6. ^ Vassallo, Bernard (5 January 2014). "Harbour boat on the back page". Times of Malta. Retrieved 5 September 2014.