Maltese Lace

Maltese lace

Maltese lace, locally known with the umbrella term of Bizzilla 'ta Malta, is associated with the Mediterranian archipelago of Malta, and especially with the island of Gozo. It is a form of bobbin lace of relatively recent, mid-19th century date, although local lace production itself dates back for several centuries. Maltese lace is usually made from ecru coloured silk yarn, but sometimes a black version occurs (for example, TRC 2019.2805). There are also examples made from linen.

The TRC Leiden has recently been given several pieces of Maltese lace (TRC 2020.4880 and TRC 2020.4881). The donation complements previous acquisitons of the same type.  Because of this  gift, and the recent publication of Azzopardi's monumental book (2020) on the subject, we would like to draw attention to this form of bobbin lace in this small online exhibition. 

Sources of information:

  • Anon (1851). Official Catalogue of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, London: Spicer Brothers.
  • Azzopardi, Consiglia (2007). ‘Lacemaking in Malta’, The Gozo Observer, no.16, June 2007, pp. 27-18. Available here
  • idem (2020). Maltese Lace History & Mystery, Four Centuries of Bizzilla.. MaltaKite group.
  • Earnshaw, Pat (1982, 1984). A Dictionary of Lace, Aylesbury: Shire Publications Ltd.
  • Levey, Santina (1983). Lace. A History. Maney Publishing.
  • Maltatina, 'Bringing Maltese lace making back to life', 2 July 2019 (click here)
  • Special portal for information on Maltese lace, see

For this online exhibition:

  • Author: Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood
  • Web-design: Joost Koopman
  • Exhibition design: Willem Vogelsang
  • Publisher: TRC Leiden.
  • Year of publication: 2020
  • Copyright: All illustrations of objects housed in the TRC collection can be used free of charge, but please add to the caption: "Courtesy Textile Research Centre, Leiden" and the pertinent accession number of the object.


0. Cover page

Maltese lace, locally known with the umbrella term of Bizzilla 'ta Malta, is associated with the Mediterranian archipelago of Malta, and especially with the island of Gozo. It is a…

1. Bobbin lace

Maltese lace is a form of bobbin, or pillow lace, which itself is a form of needle lace. Bobbin lace is the product of a modified weaving process that takes…

2. Guipure lace

Maltese (bobbin) lace is also a form of guipure lace. Guipure lace is marked by the sprigs or motifs being connected with bars or bridges (or 'brides'), and not with…

3. Brief history of Maltese (bobbin) lace

Although needle laces have been made on the islands of Malta and Gozo since at least the 16th century, bobbin lace was only introduced to the island in the first…

4. Some technical details

Maltese lace is normally worked on a long, narrow pillow (trajbu) that is placed almost vertically. It is about 60 cm long, and made of dry straw wrapped up in…

5. Maltese lace in the TRC collection

There are various examples of Maltese lace in the TRC Collection. These include collars as well as small mats and samples.