Whilst my family and I were in Malta, we made sure that we took a day trip to Valletta, the capital city. What stood out to me the most were the statues dotted around the stone streets. These statues depict and celebrate Maltese proverbs. This temporary art installation includes 13 statues and many of them are definitely thought provoking.
The pop-up statues are said to symbolise old Maltese sayings which I found really interesting. They are erected in Triton Square and Castle Square as part of the Valletta 2018 celebrations. The innovative statues include an outstretched hand holding a bird, a man with his head stuck in an onion, a pig swallowing a snake, and three cows standing on top of each other.
The ‘Kif Jghid Il-Malti’ project is the work of Maltese artists Joel Saliba and Margaret Pace from Ikona Artworks, assisted by Sara-Lee Zammit, Chris Galea and Perry Scenic Ltd. The aim of the art is to encourage people to reflect on the Maltese language. Although I do not know any Maltese, the statues really showed me the culture of not only the capital, but also Malta as a whole.
Some of the statues puzzled me and visually took me a while to decide what the sculpture was of. One in particular that did this was the one of a prickly pear-headed figure looking at their watch. I can only imagine all of the creative selfies that have been taken next to some of the installations.
Below are some of my favourite finds around the capital.
‘Minn widna jidhol u mill-ohra johrog’
‘In from one ear and out the other’ – this is said of people who choose to ignore whatever other try to tell them.
‘L-ewwel ma tiekol l-ghajn’
‘It’s the eye that eats first’ – people tend to judge things by first impressions so outward appearances count, just as food must be presented attractively.
‘Min jidhol bejn il-basla u quoxritha jibqa b’rigitha’
‘Those who insert themselves between the onion and its skin will be marked by its odour.’ – those who poke their noses in other people’s affairs are asking for trouble.
‘Il-baqra kollha tinbiegh’
‘The whole cow sells’ – different people have different tastes; what one person may like another might not.
‘Il-hanzir taqtaghlu denbu hanzir jibqa’
‘Cut off a pig’s tail and he will still remain a pig.’ – people set in their ways will not change no matter what.’
‘Tghoddx il-flieles qabel ifaqqsu’
‘Do not count your chickens before they hatch.’ – don’t make future plans based on wishful thinking.
‘Is-zmien isajru l-bajtar’
‘Time ripens the prickly pears.’ – people acquire experience and wisdom with the passage of time.
‘Ahjar ghasfur f’idejk milli mija fl-ajru.’
‘Better a bird in your hand than a hundred in the air.’ – what we already own is certainly ours whereas the same cannot be said of the things we can only dream of having.
They were definitely all unique and interesting and made wandering the streets of Valletta even more enjoyable, wondering what statue we would come across next. I liked how the majority of the sayings were centred on respect for others and ourselves.