Posts Tagged ‘Ghaqda Dilettanti Mudelli ta’ Knejjes’

  • Take me to church

    “ ‘They have hit our church!’ cried a man as he stumbled down in the tunnel which was located under the Mall Garden. We were huddling in there for shelter together with many other people as the bombs came down over Floriana,” reminisced Pawlu Piscopo who was eight at the time.

    Bombed St Publius' church (Photo provided by Pawlu Piscopo)“At this horrible news, my father grabbed me and my brother by the hand and took us out of the tunnel and over to the granaries where a very sad spectacle awaited us. St Publius’ Church had suffered a direct hit. Its dome was gone and the area was surrounded in rubble. Thirteen people who were taking cover in the church’s crypt were killed and eleven more were injured. That was the blackest moment in the history of the parish church of Floriana: April 28, 1942 at 7:50am.”

    After their house had been bombed, Pawlu’s family were allowed to take some respite in a large residence which today houses the Floriana Local Council. Yet for four years, they lived mostly underground in this tunnel which probably saved their lives. They took with them only a few belongings and the most cherished items, including a statue of St Publius which dated back to 1928 and used to adorn the model altar that his father had constructed at home.

    “Most families in Malta had a model of an altar or a miniature church at home at the time.  Unfortunately, many of these had to be abandoned during the war and a good number of them were destroyed when the houses were bombed.”

    The craft of church model-making had been introduced to our islands by the Knights of St John back in the 16th century, and therefore its knowledge was a distinct tradition. However the adversity of war ravaged even this precious memory until eventually this craft was almost completely forgotten.

    The entrance to Pawlu's model of St Publius' chucrh (Photo provided by Pawlu Piscopo)“After the war, people tried to get on with their lives as best as they could. Shops started to open again but those that used to sell miniature items with which to decorate our religious models, dwindled down to almost none. Nevertheless, the passion for model-making was much engrained in our family and when I bought a miniature structure made of four columns and a dome from a man who was leaving Malta to go to live in Australia, my father Carmelo was inspired to use it as the foundation for a model of St Publius’ church,” explained Pawlu.

    Carmelo was a very skilled carpenter. He would go from time to time to have a look at the church and then go back to his model and construct an exact copy of the section that he had seen.

    “He used the material which was handy at the time, mostly cardboard, wood and gypsum. I helped him out too in order to build the whole church which included ten altars. Eventually, this model reached a huge size of three by four metres and we could walk in it and look above at the beautiful dome,” Pawlu said proudly.

    Once his father grew old, Pawlu continued with the work on this church which they had started back in the early 1960s. As he embellished this model, the wish to set up a group for model-makers in order to share this passion with them, burnt within him.

    Pawlu Piscopo at the exhibition (Photo - Fiona Vella)“On February 26, 1986 which happenned to be the tenth anniversary of my father’s demise, I discussed this idea with two of my friends, Raphael Micallef and Tony Terribile, who were very interested in this sector. We all agreed to do something in order to revive this craft and we sent out adverts in the newspapers to announce the set up of this group which we called Għaqda Dilettanti Mudelli ta’ Knejjes (Church Modelling Society). We were very happy when we received a great response from enthusiastic individuals all over Malta. Soon, a commitee was formed and on March 1986, we organized the first exhibition during the first two weeks of Lent wherein the members displayed the works that they had.”

    It was certainly a great satisfaction to see this society thrive and grow along the years, always adding up new members of various ages. Today, around 400 members form part of this group which operates from its premises at 37, East Street, Valletta.

    John Paul Buhagiar Smith, one of the youngest members of the society, decorating his model-altar (Photo - Fiona Vella)“This year we are delighted to celebrate the 30th anniversary from the establishment of this society,” Pawlu said. “The annual exhibition has been taking place each year. Besides offering the opportunity to showcase our members’ works, this event has served to help our members and the public which visits it, to meditate during the Lent period and to prepare for the Easter celebrations.”

    A bi-monthly magazine, Il-Knisja Tiegħi (My Church), which was also initiated by Pawlu, is marking its 30th anniversary too. Members have been writing features in it related to different aspects of religious folklore, thereby kindling even further interest in model-making.

    Once again this year, the society has organized this exhibition which saw the participation of several of its members. Exhibits varied and included small to large statues of the passion of Christ and Easter, statues of Blessed Mary and several saints, models of altars, church facades and whole churches made of different materials.

    Detail from Pawlu's model dome (1) (Photo provided by Pawlu Piscopo)“I hope that I’ll have enough strength to exhibit my large model of St Publius’ church,” revealed Pawlu at one point. “It takes me four weeks to set it up on a large platform and to connect the miniature chandeliers and light fittings to electricity. I am getting old now and such work is very tiring.”

    Pawlu has been exhibiting this model in a building besides the Floriana Cathecism Museum for many years now, during the feast of St Publius which takes place two weeks after Easter.

    “Many people come to visit my model and they are fascinated with it. Tourists take photos besides it and they ask me how I managed to construct it section by section and yet making it look as a whole. I tell them that there are lifetimes of passion invested within it and that it is imbued with a blend of religious meaning and local traditional skills and creativity.”

    At 82 years, Pawlu is serene and thankful to see the society which he has founded together with his friends strengthen itself and adding members to it.

    “I just wish that it will continue to flourish for very long,” smiled Pawlu as he looked contentedly around him in order to appreciate the beautiful displayed works of the society’s members.

    (This article was published in the Easter Supplement which was issued with The Times of Malta dated 21st March 2016)

    2016.03.21 / no responses / Category: Times of Malta


    As several bombs were let loose on our islands during the attacks of World War II, their destructive effects threatened more than human lives and buildings. They put at peril our heritage, jeopardizing the roots of our people and the future of our country.

    Raphael Micallef in front of old model made by Manuel PsailaRaphael Micallef, now 82, still recalls the terror felt by the people as the shrill of the air-raid sirens urged them to leave their houses and run for shelters. As an inhabitant of the capital city, he saw his town being shattered to pieces, the damage claiming even unique treasures such as the Chapel of Bones which used to be so popular both with the locals and the tourists. People huddled together in shelters and prayed for their own safety but they also implored for their houses to be spared as these nested within them all their possessions, memories of loved ones, and valuable objects which had been passed on from generation to generation.

    “Valletta and Cottonera suffered some of the severest attacks. Unfortunately within these areas one could find the best examples of church models, many of which had been inherited over many years. Sadly most of them had to be abandoned during the war and almost all of them ended up buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings.”

    The craft of church model-making had been introduced to our islands by the Knights of St John back in the 16th century, and therefore it’s knowledge was a distinct tradition. However the adversity of war  ravaged even this ancient memory until eventually this craft was almost completely forgotten.

    In 1986, this dire situation inspired Raphael, who was an avid enthusiast in church model-making, to make an effort to revive this craft. Together with his friends Tony Terribile and Paul Piscopo, he ventured to initiate an association under the name of Għaqda Dilettanti Mudelli ta’ Knejjes which aimed to instill interest, knowhow and craftsmanship in the art of church model-making. The first president of the association was Guido Lanfranco.

    Simon Mercieca with his church model“After 26 years, I am proud to say that now we have our own premises at 37 East Street, Valletta. Although it is a small place, our 400 members meet keenly under its humble roof in order to attend to the regular activities that we organize. Members’ ages differ greatly; starting from young children of 7 and going up to elderly individuals over 90. Everybody is welcome in our group and together we learn and discuss new ideas of how to enrich this cultural tradition. Each of the members has the opportunity to explore his skills and to enhance them further both through the interaction with other members and also under the guidance of craftsmen and historians who are frequently invited to our premises. Many members have built their own church models, some of which one can even walk through – a popular model is that of Simon Mercieca which is often open to the public for viewing. Others have opted to produce statues and accessories which are used in the church models. Most of the members succeed in producing marvellous works, sometimes using common objects and transforming them into intricate decorations which adorne the models.”

    Each year, during the Lenten period, the association organizes an exhibition with some of the works of the members, both to give them the opportunity to share their skill with others and also to attract the public to this old tradition.

    “Our association is deeply cherished by its members. In fact some of them have honoured us by donating us prestigious works which belonged to them or to their families. It is a great privilege to possess a number of the few lucky survivors of war which managed to make it, as their owners lovingly took them along with them to safer areas.”

    100 year old model of a niche worked out of quillingRaphael showed me some of these examples, including an elegant limestone church facade which was designed by Manuel Psaila between 1935 and 1940, and a delicate niche produced out of quilling which dates back to more than 100 years. I was thankful to Raphael for having shared with me this experience. His calm and serene smile was full of pride as his dream of giving the life back to a part of our culture was fulfilled. In fact the association’s work has succeeded to reach much further grounds than any of the members could ever have aspired for, when in 1994, Joseph Sciberras ended up winning a place in the Guinness Book of Records for his church model which was made out of more than 3 million used up matchsticks!

    I met Joseph Sciberras, now 93, in his son’s home in Attard. Sitting cosily near his bird pet who sung cheerfully at his side, Joseph told me the story of his model which has given him so much satisfaction in his life.

    “I was an electrician by trade but during the war I was engaged as a soldier. I remember vividly a particular day when I was at work in Delimara and came to know that Floriana, where I lived, had just been badly hit by bomb attacks. I was desperate to see whether my family was safe and whether our house was damaged, and my superior allowed me to leave. I walked right back to Floriana there and then, and luckily both my family and my house were safe. The enemy used to target his attacks from the Floriana parish church and bomb throughout. We lived nearby and one day our house did fall victim to these attacks, alas like the church which did too anyway.

    Joseph Sciberras with his model of Floriana parish churchYears passed and both our houses and the Floriana parish church were rebuilt. I used to like to observe the facade of our beloved church and when I became a pensioner, I decided to start building an exact model of it. I chose to construct it out of used up matchsticks. Day after day, I worked on my model, constantly taking measures and designing the acute details of the facade.

    When my friends who most of them worked at the Dockyards got to know what I was doing, they started to collect used mathsticks for me. Then when I exhibited my first model to the public, these matchsticks began to arrive from different areas of Malta! I had so many in hand that I ended up doing all the parish church inside out, until eventually the model measured 2 metres by 2 metres with a height of a further 1.5 metres.

    Joseph Sciberras showing the Guiness Book of RecordsPeople were totally mesmerized by my model and many, including several tourists, even hugged me when they noticed all the details and work that I had put into my work. It was during one of these exhibitions when some foreigners entered to view my model. I could not be more lucky as these were officials of the Guinness Book of Records and as they studied and measured my model, they informed me that I had succeeded to break the record of the previous winner matchstick model! Soon a certificate arrived together with my inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records.” Spiritedly Joseph showed me his model church displayed on the pages of this famous book. He felt very satisfied that his hard work which took so many years to do was given such an acknowledgement.

    “Ultimately this model became part of my life as I have dedicated much of my love and my time to it. In return it gave me happinness as I saw people admiring it and appreciating my skill and patience. I have taken good care of it all along these years and my final wish is to donate my model to our National Museum of Etnography wherein it could be enjoyed by the public in reminiscence of me and of this ancient cultural tradition. I feel sad to leave it behind me but one cannot live forever, can he?”

    Francis Sciberras showing me his father's workI could not resist the invitation of Francis, Joseph’s son, to visit the workshop of his father in Floriana wherein this model was stored. Humorously Francis indicated the name of the place “Sulfarina” (matchstick). “Interestingly our family was originally known as “Taċ-Ċomb” (of lead) but today, because of my father’s model, everyone knows us as “Tas-Sulfarini” (of the matchsticks). Notwithstanding that my father has stopped working now, I still find packets full of used matchsticks which people leave behind his door.”

    We went into the small building which was totally engulfed by the huge model of the Floriana parish church and by other of Joseph’s works, all made of matchsticks. With some difficulty, Francis managed to find his way through the multitude of wires which his father had included in the model in order to light up the church.

    Section of the model of Floriana parish church Now I could observe what Joseph had talked about…. the millions of matchsticks, each one placed or thwarted to fit into the shape that he had designed for them…. the facade, the dome, the walls, the columns, the niches, the floor, the minute chairs. There were also small silver apostles which Francis had made for his father to place on the altar. Miniature gorgeous chandeliers made up of common scrap hung beautifully along the flowing arches. It was all set up and ready as if inviting people to go inside.

    I gazed inside the model church, my eyes resting and enjoying every detail whilst I slowly understood what this all means… Within this modest model lied the admirable representation of our local skills together with the ability of our people to prevail even through the hardest times.

    For further information about the Għaqda Dilettanti Mudelli ta’ Knejjes, one can access their website or join their facebook page.

    (Note: An edited version of this article was published in FIRST magazine Issue April 2012. A pdf version of the published article is available on this website under the title MINIATURE CHURCH DEVOTION).

    2012.04.15 / no responses / Category: Malta Independent on Sunday - First magazine


    Kull meta nara xi filmati dwar Malta fil-gwerra, qalbi tingħasar. Ma niflaħx nara lil dawk l-ajruplani jitilqu l-bombi fuq niesi u fuq pajjiżi. Taqbadni rabja kbira u ma nkunx nista’ nikkontrolla d-dmugħ hekk kif nara n-nies imwerwra jiġru fit-triqat biex jippruvaw isibu l-kenn tax-xelters waqt li djarhom ikunu qed isiru frak. Dawk id-djar li mhux biss min jaf kemm swew sagrifiċċji għas-sidien tagħhom imma li fihom dawn kellhom dak kollu li huma jkunu akkwistaw jew wirtu matul is-snin. Affarijiet b’memorji ta’ nies maħbubin u oġġetti prezzjużi li qatt aktar ma setgħu jinġiebu lura hekk kif saru trab taħt it-terrapien….

    Dawn il-memorji reġgħu tqanqluli dil-ġimgħa hekk kif iltqajt ma’ wieħed mill-fundaturi tal-Għaqda Dilettanti Mudelli ta’ Knejjes, Raphael Micallef u mal-President tagħha, Vincent Galea.

    “Sfortunatament l-akbar dilettanti tal-mudelli tal-knejjes kienu jgħixu fl-inħawi tal-Belt Valletta u l-Kottonera – l-iktar żewġ postijiet li ġew milquta fil-gwerra. Hemmhekk kont issib mudelli li kienu ilhom jintirtu s-snin. Imma meta ġiet il-gwerra, in-nies kellhom jabbandunaw djarhom u bosta kellhom iħallu anki dawn il-mudelli warajhom. Min jaf kemm teżori ntradmu f’dawk is-snin!” bdieli d-diskors Raphael.

    “Fil-fatt ta’ min isemmi illi dan id-delizzju jmur lura prattikament għal żmien il-kavallieri. Meta l-kavallieri ġew jgħixu fost il-Maltin, naturalment dawn ġabu t-tradizzjonijiet u l-kultura tagħhom Vincent Galea mal-mudell tal-villaġġ Maltimagħhom. Kif kulħadd jaf, il-kavallieri kienu nies sinjuri ħafna u kellhom djar mill-ifjen. Ħafna minnhom kellhom użanza li jiddedikaw kamra mid-dar biex tintuża bħala kappella fejn il-qassis seta’ jmur iqaddes xi quddiesa u fejn il-membri tal-familja setgħu jgħidu r-rużarju flimkien. Xi nobbli Maltin li kienu midħla tal-kavallieri tħajjru jagħmlu xi ħaġa simili. Imma minħabba li dawn ma kellhomx l-istess spazju għad-dispożizzjoni tagħhom, minflok kappella huma bdew jagħmlu bħal speċi ta’ gwardarobba li meta tinfetaħ ikun hemm artal fiha li jkun armat b’kollox. Ġeneralment din kienet titpoġġa fis-salott u meta tingħalaq, minn barra kienet tidher bħala biċċa mill-għamara tal-kamra. Dawn kienu jissejħu artali mobbli jew artali portabbli. Infatti xi żmien ilu kienet saret wirja tagħhom ġewwa l-palazz tal-President. Iżda fid-djar tal-kavallieri kien ikun hemm ukoll Maltin oħra – is-servitù, nies ta’ klassi baxxa jew aħjar il-poplu in ġenerali. Dawn ukoll twebblu b’din it-tradizzjoni. Iżda kemm minħabba li ma  kellhomx finanzi u kemm għan-nuqqas ta’ spazju peress li kien ikollhom ħafna tfal, huma bdew jarmaw xkaffa b’xi statwa tal-Madonna fuqha u jżejjnuha bil-gandlieri u l-fjuri. Dik il-parti tad-dar bdiet issir magħrufa bħala r-rokna tad-devozzjoni. Maż-żmien kien hemm min beda jżid artal żgħir u jżejjnu sakemm naqra naqra waslu biex għamlu l-ewwel mudelli ta’ knejjes żgħar. U minn hemm beda kollox,” irrakkuntali Vincent.

    Qatt ma kont bsart illi dan id-delizzju kellu storja daqshekk imbiegħda u fl-istess ħin romantika! Madanakollu l-gwerra tat daqqa ta’ ħarta kbira lil din it-tradizzjoni.

    “Wara l-gwerra dan id-delizzju baqa’ nieżel, kemm għax sadanittant kienu daħlu delizzji oħra u kif ukoll peress li wara l-gwerra, l-Knisja ma baqgħetx daqshekk influwenti fuq in-nies. Fil-fatt maż-żmien din it-tradizzjoni bdiet tintesa imma kien għad hawn min kellu xi mudelli tal-knejjes fid-dar tiegħu u lil xi ħwienet kont bqajt issibilhom xi affarijiet għall-bejgħ konnessi ma’ dawn il-mudelli. Għaldaqstant nistgħu ngħidu illi hekk kif inħolqot din l-Għaqda, dak il-ġamar li kien għoddu ntefa’ reġa ħa n-nar mill-ġdid u l-ispontanjetà tad-delizzju reġa’ ngħata l-ħajja.”

    Raphael kompla jinfurmani dwar it-tnissil ta’ din l-Għaqda…

    “Kien fl-1986 meta jiena, Tony Terribile u Pawlu Piscopo ddeċidejna li nistiednu lill-pubbliku biex nerġgħu nrawwmu dan id-delizzju li ftit ftit kien beda jispiċċa. Konna għamilna appell fil-ġurnali lokali ħalli min kien interessat javviċinana biex niffurmaw Għaqda. U l-Għaqda bdiet, bl-ewwel President tagħha jkun il-magħruf Guido Lanfranco.”

    Eventwalment l-Għaqda rnexxielha takkwista binja żgħira fejn ikunu jistgħu jinġabru l-membri.

    “Dan il-bini jinsab f’37 Triq il-Lvant, il-Belt Valletta proprju  taħt il-kunvent tas-Sorijiet tal-Klawsura ta’ Sant’Ursula. Meta dħalna fil-post sibnih abbandunat u mimli mbarazz. Dħalna għal spiża kbira biex irranġajnih. Iżda issa hemm is-sodisfazzjon illi għandna ċentru tagħna fejn nistgħu nlaqqgħu lill-membri kull tant żmien. Fil-fatt kull meta norganizzaw xi attivitajiet, hawnhekk ikun mimli sa ruħ ommu bil-membri li ormaj imissu mal-400; membri li l-eta’ tagħhom tibda minn tfal ta’ 7 snin u tibqa’ tiela’ sa anzjani.”

    Min jista’ jsir membru ta’ din l-Għaqda?

    “Il-membri tagħna huma tfal, irġiel, nisa u anki numru ta’ emigranti Maltin. Kulħadd hu milqugħ. M’hemmx għalfejn li wieħed ikollu xi mudell jew li jkun beħsiebu jagħmel xi wieħed. Għandna membri li ngħaqdu magħna sempliċiment għax jinteressahom il-folklor u t-tradizzjonijiet reliġjużi u għalhekk jieħdu pjaċir jattendu għad-diskussjonijiet edukattivi li aħna norganizzaw.

    Is-sabiħ hu li għandna ħafna żgħażagħ bħala membri u dawn peress li jkunu f’kuntatt akbar man-nies huma l-individwi ideali biex ikomplu jxerrdu dan id-delizzju.”

    Fhiex jikkonsistu l-attivitajiet tal-Għaqda?

    “Fiċ-ċentru tagħna sikwit inġibu individwi sabiex jitkellmu mal-membri tagħna ħalli jgħaddulhom tagħrif utli u relevanti dwar dan id-delizzju. Biex nagħtik eżempju, dan l-aħħar ġie Guido Lanfranco li beda jispjega dwar id-disinji fil-knejjes u dwar it-titulari tagħhom. Jattendu wkoll diversi nies tas-sengħa sabiex jaqsmu xi ideat dwar kif jista’ jsir ix-xogħol fuq il-mudelli, bħal ngħidu aħna kif jinbena mudell ta’ knisja, kif isir l-indurar, l-irħamar, kif titnaddaf il-fidda, kif tirtokka statwa u ħafna oħrajn. Peress li ċertu mudelli huma oġġetti fissi fid-djar ma jkunx possibbli li wieħed jeħodhom x’imkien biex jaħdem fuqhom ħaddieħor. Fuq kollox, iċ-ċokon tax-xogħol jagħmilha imprattika li tagħtiha lil xi ħadd professjonali. Għaldaqstant ikun siewi ħafna li wieħed jitħarreġ kif jagħmel dan ix-xogħol huwa stess. Xejn xejn jitgħallem ukoll xi ħaġa ġdida.

    Barra minn hekk, kull xahrejn l-Għaqda toħroġ ukoll fuljett żgħir bl-isem ‘Il-knisja tiegħi’. Fih ikun hemm numru ta’ artikli b’tagħrif dwar il-mudelli u l-arti sagra filwaqt li ninkludu wkoll xi avviżi dwar xi  żjarat kulturali li norganizzaw.

    Fl-ewwel ġranet tar-Randan prinċipalment issir il-wirja annwali tagħna fejn il-membri jesebixxu xi oġġetti tagħhom.

    Nixtieq niċċara illi aħna ma nagħtux importanza biss lid-delizzju imma anki lill-ispiritwalità tal-membri tagħna. B’dan il-għan aħna norganizzaw laqgħat flimkien anki fil-knisja speċjalment fiż-żmien tal-Għid u l-Milied sabiex niċċelebraw dawn il-festi bħala familja waħda.”

    Raphael u Vincent bdew idawwruni mal-post u juruni xi xogħolijiet u mudelli li ġew irregalati lill-Għaqda minn xi membri tagħha.

    “Dan il-mudell ġie msawwar mill-ġebla tal-franka minn Manuel Psaila  bejn l-1935 u l-1940 u ġie  mbierek mill-Vigarju tal-Isqof Mario Caruana.  Huwa mudell tal-faċċata tal-Knisja tal-Madonna tal-Raphael Micallef mal-mudell maħdum minn Manuel PsailaKarmnu tal-Gżira, magħrufa wkoll bħala ‘Tal-ġebla’.  Ħaġa oħra li żżid il-valur ta’ dil-knisja hu illi t-tinqix li sar fuq il-parti tal-ġebel, inħadem fuq id-disinn tal-iskultur magħruf Marku Montebello. Ix-xogħol tal-ħjata sar minn Ersilia, waħda minn ulied Manuel li wara mewt missierhom għoġobhom jgħaddulna dan il-mudell biex b’hekk ikun jista’ jitgawda wkoll minn dawk kollha li jiġu hawn. “Ħierġa qalbna miegħu dan il-mudell,” kienu qalulna meta morna biex inġibuh. “Daqs li kieku ħiereġ xi membru anzjan tal-familja.” Fil-fatt kif semmejtlek fil-bidu, dan il-mudell huwa wieħed mis-superstiti tal-gwerra. Irnexxielu jsalva peress li Manuel kien trasportah bl-akbar għożża u attenzjoni mill-Gżira sal-Pietà fejn kien mar  joqgħod waqt il-gwerra. Irridu ngħidu illi din l-opra ma kinetx laħqet tlestiet għal kollox u għalhekk l-Għaqda ħadet ħsieb biex torqomha fosthom billi indurata u rħamata. Kull min jiġi hawnhekk l-ewwel ma jara lilha u kulħadd jintilef warajha.

    Imbagħad għandna wkoll dan il-mudell ta’ raħal maħdum mill-ġablo. Oriġinarjament kien inġieb hawn għall-wirja minn wieħed mill-membri tagħna minn B’Bugia li wara għoġbu jħallih lill-Għaqda. Huwa xogħol rappreżentattiv li juri n-natura ta’ raħal Malti fl-inqas dettall tiegħu fejn wieħed jista’ jara l-knisja bħala ċ-ċentru, z-zuntier, il-każin tal-banda, il-ħwienet, l-isqaq u t-triqat bl-ismijiet tagħhom. Anki dan il-mudell huwa apprezzat ħafna speċjalment minħabba l-oriġinalità tiegħu.”

    F’ħin minnhom nara lil Vincent ġej bi flixkun kbir tal-ħġieġ f’idu. Ġo fih kien hemm armata statwa ta’ San Ġużepp bil-Bambin f’idu. Ma stajtx nifhem kif iddaħħal hemm ġew ħlief billi nqala’ l-qiegħ tal-flixkun.

    “Le, nassigurak li l-qiegħ huwa intatt. Ġużi Psaila minn Ħaż-Żabbar ħadmu billi b’paċenzja kbira qata’ l-injam fi strixxi rqaq u permezz ta’ pinzetta twila reġa’ nkolla kollox flimkien fil-ġewwieni tal-flixkun.”

    Did-darba Vincent immarkali lejn il-ħajt fejn kien hemm mudell magħluq f’niċċa tal-injam.

    “Dak hu oġġett ieħor imprezzabbli li għandha l-Għaqda. Sidha kien membru anzjan mill-Mosta. Kien wiret dan il-mudell li għandu aktar minn 100 sena minn għand nannuh u finalment d-dixxendenti Mudell ta' niċċa ta' 100 sena maħduma bil-quillingtiegħu ħallewh lilna. Il-mudell ġie maħdum bl-arti tal-quilling li jikkonsisti fit-tkebbib tal-karti tad-deheb.”

    Kien hemm bosta mudelli nteressanti oħra tant li hu mpossibbli ninkludihom kollha. Barra minn hekk Vincent urini diversi albums mimlija bir-ritratti ta’ kwantità ta’ xogħlijiet. L-aktar wieħed li laqgħatni kien mudell ta’ xena ta’ dari meta l-qassis kien imur iqarben permezz ta’ għodda partikolari lil dawk morda bil-pesta. Tqanqlitli l-kurżita’ dwar x’ifissru dawn il-mudelli għal dawn id-dilettanti?

    “Fi tfuliti dawn il-mudelli kienu parti mill-kultura prinċipali b’folklor Malti reliġjuż. Tista’ tgħid li kont issib minn dawn il-mudelli kważi f’kull dar. Tant hu hekk illi anki fil-ħanut li kellu missieri l-Belt kien hemm rokna b’mudell ta’ knisja żgħira ddedikata lil Madonna tad-Duluri u jien kont nieħu ħsieb l-armar tagħha.

    Illum ngħodd it-80 sena imma niftakar ċar mudell ieħor li kellu tifel ġirien tiegħi. Kien mudell ta’ knisja maħdum bl-arkett iddedikat lill-Kunċizzjoni. Fil-festa tagħha kien jarma l-Mudell tat-tqarbin lin-nies morda bil-pestaknisja u jagħmel festin fid-dar tiegħu fejn kien jistieden lill-ġirien u lit-tfal tagħhom. Jiena kont inħobb noqgħod nimita lill-qassisin u allura kont nagħmlilhom il-liturġija u t-tridu u noqgħod inqaddes u nippriedka. Wara konna nagħmlu purċissjoni mal-kurituri tad-dar kbira tagħhom u nispiċċaw bl-antifona u bil-benedizzjoni.

    Ir-reliġjon kien parti essenzjali minn ħajjitna tant illi niftakar ukoll illi konna nixtru ċ-ċikwejra (li kienet ċikkulata mfarrka biex inħalltuha mal-kafè) u magħha, magħluqa f’envelop, konna nsibu santa. Kienet l-hena tagħna nġemmgħu s-santi u npartuhom.

    Għall-grazzja t’Alla dal-passatemp tal-mudelli tal-knejjes issa reġa’ daħal fid-djar tagħna. Għad-dilettanti, l-mudell tagħhom ikollu importanza kbira tant li wħud jarmawh kuljum skont il-kulur tal-liturġija tal-ġurnata. F’pajjiżna hawn bosta li għandhom id-delizzju li jgħinu fil-knejjes kemm fuq barra, bħal fil-festi u kemm fuq ġewwa. Għalhekk permezz ta’ dawn il-mudelli huma jkunu jistgħu joħolqu dak l-ambjent tal-knisja li tant jgħożżu u saħansitra jkunu jistgħu jibnuh u jirranġawh f’darhom u skont il-gosti tagħhom.”

    L-interess kbir li għandu Raphael f’dal-qasam wassalni biex nistaqsih jekk qattx għaddietlu minn rasu li jsir qassis?

    “Għalkemm minn dejjem kelli ġibda lejn il-ħidma pastorali u meta kont tifel kont abbati, qatt ma tħajjart nidħol is-seminarju. Għadni s’issa bniedem reliġjuż ħafna imma maż-żmien bnejt familja ma’ marti Helen. Żewwiġna ħija li kien saċerdot u llum għandna ħamest itfal u ilna miżżewġin aktar minn 50 sena.”

    Biex tibni dawn il-mudelli jrid ikollok xi sengħa partikolari?

    “Bosta mill-membri qatt ma kellhom esperjenza qabel fuq dan id-delizzju imma b’dana kollu ġew hawn, ħadu dik l-edukazzjoni dwar dan ix-xogħol u llum il-ġurnata tiskanta kemm huma attivi anki bil-mudelli li għandhom fid-dar. Nista’ nsemmilek żewġ membri simili: Anthony Pule’ u Simon Mercieca li għandhom mudelli meravilja fid-djar tagħhom. Imbagħad ma nistax ma nsemmix lil membru ieħor tagħna Hector Bruno li bħalissa qiegħed jibni mudell mill-isbaħ ta’ knisja maħdum bl-injam ġewwa maħżen kbir li l-quddiem jixtieq jikkonvertih f’mużew. Fil-fatt l-għan tal-Għaqda hu illi jkompli jinkoraġġixxi lil dak li jkun biex jidħol fl-ispirtu tad-delizzju.”

    Kemm huwa importanti li dan id-delizzju jibqa’ ħaj?

    “Naturalment kull ħaġa li tkun marbuta mal-istorja tal-pajjiż hija importanti għax tiġi tagħmel parti mit-tradizzjoni tiegħu u allura huwa neċessarju li tibqa’ ħajja u tibqa’ għaddejja għax jekk titlef tradizzjoni jkun diffiċli ferm biex tirkupraha.

    Barra minn hekk dan id-delizzju partikolari huwa marbut mar-reliġjon u allura jqarrbek aktar lejn Alla u lejn il-Knisja. San Ġorġ Preca kien jgħid “dak li hu tajjeb u jressqek lejn Alla għandek tinkoraġġih”. Mill-esperjenza personali tiegħi,” kompla jfehemni Vincent, “anki nies li forsi kienu xi daqsxejn imbegħdin mill-Knisja, meta bdew jaħdmu f’dan id-delizzju, reġgħu bdew jersqu lejn il-Knisja u lejn ir-reliġjon. Għax jekk inti ngħidu aħna, tkun qed tarma l-artal, bla ma trid ser tinteressa ruħek fil-liturġija tal-Knisja u fil-qaddisin u allura ser issir aktar midħla tar-reliġjon.

    Barra minn hekk bħala Għaqda dan id-delizzju aħna nixtiquh jibqa’ jeżisti għax joffri żvog u għandu wkoll tema soċjali peress li jlaqqgħak man-nies, iħajjrek tiddiskuti u tkabbar il-kultura tiegħek u jgħallmek toħloq xi ħaġa b’idejk. Fl-istess ħin dan ix-xogħol jiftaħ bieb għal diversi snajja’ bħall-arġentiera li jispeċjalizzaw fir-raġġieri żgħar u oġġetti oħra ċkejkna tal-fidda, dawk li jaħdmu l-arkett, oħrajn li jagħmlu l-istatwi bit-tafal jew bil-kartapesta u dawk li kapaċi jaħdmu skultura żgħira adatatta biex teħel mal-bradelli u mal-affarjiet tal-mudelli tal-knisja.”

    Kemm hija popolari l-wirja annwali tal-Għaqda u x’ser naraw dis-sena?

    “Nistgħu ngħidu illi issa dil-wirja daħlet fil-kalendarju tal-wirjiet lokali. Jiġu bosta dilettanti imma mhux biss. Fil-fatt l-għan tal-wirja, apparti li tesponi x-xogħlijiet tal-membri tagħha, titwaqqaf biex tiġbed membri oħra prospettivi. Mhux darba u tnejn illi jiġu diversi tfal tal-iskola mal-għalliema tagħhom minħabba l-proġetti kulturali li jiġu mitluba jagħmlu u wara naraw lill-istess tfal ġejjin mal-ġenituri tagħhom biex jidħlu bħala membri magħna.

    Fil-wirja ta’ dis-sena ser ikollna attrazzjoni speċjali li tikkonsisti f’diversi statwi oriġinali tal-Passjoni maħduma fuq dawk tal-purċissjonijiet li jsiru ġewwa Spanja. Dawn huma kollha maħdumin bl-idejn u Statwi bi stil Spanjolmlibbsin bi drapp mill-aktar fin skont it-tradizzjoni Spanjola. Barra minn hekk ser ikun hemm ukoll xogħol b’diversi materjali fosthom bis-sulfarini, mudelli ta’ knejjes u kollezzjonijiet ta’ affarijiet reliġjużi tradizzjonali bħall-kwadri tal-ex-voto u santi.

    Il-ħidma tal-Għaqda mhux biss din il-wirja imma b’sodisfazzjon nistgħu ngħidu illi l-frott tagħha huma n-numru kbir ta’ wirjiet personali li jkun hemm fid-djar. Jekk tqis li meta bdejna l-Għaqda kull ma kien hawn kienu biss tlett wirjiet personali tal-istatwi tal-Ġimgħa l-Kbira fil-Belt u tara x’hawn illum ma’ Malta u Għawdex kollha, tifhem il-benefiċċju li qed iħalli x-xogħol tagħna.

    Nixtiequ nappellaw lill-pubbliku in ġenerali biex jiġi jagħti titwila lejn dak li kien kapaċi jagħmel il-poplu Malti matul iż-żminijiet u anki illum fis-snin riċenti. U għaliex le? Forsi minn dis-sena, xi wħud minnhom jitħajjru jissieħbu magħna sabiex huma wkoll jiffurmaw parti minn dan il-patrimonju Malti.”

    Din il-wirja qed tittella’ fis-Sala ta’ San Franġisk fi Triq Melita, l-Belt Valletta mis-Sibt 20 ta’ Frar 2010 sas-Sibt 6 ta’ Marzu 2010. Ħinijiet tal-ftuħ mid-9:30am – 12:30pm u mill-4:30pm sas-7:30pm. Id-dħul huwa b’xejn u wieħed jista’ wkoll jinkiteb bħala membru.

    (Dan l-artiklu ġie ppubblikat fit-Torċa tal-21 ta’ Frar 2010)

    2010.02.21 / no responses / Category: Torca - Perspettivi