Current Affairs
Donates early 20th Century mother’s ‘Għonnella’

It seems that not only persons, when it is necessary, have to be quarantined but also clothes. This was the case of an ‘għonnella’, a short jacket, a skirt and an underwear skirt which were donated to Heritage Malta by a Gozitan family.

By the middle of the 20th Century many women and ladies were still wearing the għonnella, a traditional Maltese dress. Heritage Malta has just received an għonnella and events clothes from a Gozitan family. Conservationist Claire Bonavia said that this għonnella goes back to the beginning of the 20th Century.

The għonnella together with the other clothes belonged to Francesca Zammit and were tailored specifically for the occasion of the priesthood ordination of Francesca’s brother – Dun Pawl Ciantar – on the 19th December 1903.

“This means we have exactly the date when it was worn and the lady was a 17-year old”.

Francesca’s daughter, Nicolina Debrincat, had expressed the wish in a Private Deed that her mother’s clothes are donated due to their typical Maltese characteristics, which today are very rare.

Conservationist Bonavia said that donations of clothes are kept in quarantine and examined before they are put in a laboratory. “We will study and clean it to remove dust; then we start studying its size, material, the needed conservation and if the curator wants to exhibit it, we will see how to assemble it”.

The conservationist added that the għonnella is in a good condition although it needed some repairs.

Later on, the għonnella will be exhibited at the Gozo museum, however Ms Bonavia said that this does not mean that its exhibition will be permanent. “We have to consider the exposition of the cloth both to light and natural elements, therefore we will see where the dress is stored”.

Meanwhile, the għonnella and the other clothes will remain preserved in a cotton cloth.