Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Village of Gharb, Gozo

The legend of Zgugina is rooted in the village of Gharb situated on the West side of the Island of Gozo. Above is the picture of Wied il-Mielah (Salt Valley) where the corsairs who stole Zgugina's son Mattew are supposed to have landed.

Village History

During excavation works at 'il-Mixta' of Ghajn Abdul pre-historic pottery was found dating back to Neolithic times. According to Dr Trump this means that people lived here between 3800 - 3630BC. From the excavations made by the department of Museums, results showed that people also used to live in these caves during the Bronze Age between 1630 -800BC.

The Maltese author Antonju Caruana in his book 'Sull'Origine della lingua Maltese' says that remains of the Phoenicians were found in Gharb. According to Can G. Piet Agius de Soldanis 'ix-Xaqqufija' in Gharb is a small place where old Romans used to live. At Gharb there are Byzantine names like 'Kardusa' near San Dimitri. Chev. Vincent Bonello says that it might be possible that around the 7th Century, after being expelled from North Africa, some monks might have built chapels or monasteries in these areas. It could also be possible that the Byzantine inhabited the Islands before the Arabs did. After the Arabs took over these islands Arabic became the official language. Some old people from Gharb more than any other villages in Gozo are still using some of these words today in their day to day language. Words similar to 'Wied id-dluka', Wied ir-Rahab', 'Ghammar' and 'cuplajs', 'srew', 'ghannewwel' and others can still be heard at Gharb.
About 60 years ago the people of Gharb used to wear the 'kabozza' in the cold winter nights. The Arabs introduced 'The Kabozza' in these islands and it was always associated with the village of Gharb. Language scholars often crossed over from Malta to listen to old people from Gharb talking in pure Gozitan dialect.

Although during the Great Siege in 1565 Gozo didn't take part, Gharb was more or less involved. Smoke signals used to be sent whenever necessary. Grandmaster La Vallette was happy with the participation of Gozo in the Great Siege. 'Kap il-Malti' had served for a lot of years as watch against attacks from the enemies.
This village is also the home of two very holy people, namely Frenc ta' L-Gharb and Karmni Grima. Both of them were totally devoted to Our Lady of Ta Pinu. In fact Karmni Grima is believed to have seen Our Lady in an appartition while she was tilling her fields near the site where Ta Pinu Sanctuary now stands. Frenc ta' L-Gharb was a herbalist in his own way and many people from all over Gozo used to consult him for he had great insight and healing powers administered through his steadfast faith in Our Lady.

The Gharb Local Council manages a Folklore Museum mostly centred around old-time tools and trades. This is a must see for visitors to Gharb.

This is a typical old homestead in the picturesque and peaceful village of Gharb (known as Garbo prior to the 1930's)

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