Iz-Zaqq! Here’s the history behind this traditional and unique Maltese instrument
An essential part of Maltese folklore.
A maltese folklore performance, would not be complete without someone playing the zaqq instrument but unfortunately the instrument is slowly disappearing from the island.
The zaqq is a woodwind musical instrument that might be seen as similar to what in English is generally referred to as bagpipes.
Typically, Mediterranean bagpipes have animal skin bags. However, not only does the zaqq have animal skin bagpipes but it also has the legs together with the tail. It is only the head is removed.
It has been depicted in many paintings and works of art during the 18th and 19th century but by the late 20th century, you could pretty much count the people who knew how to play it on your hands.
The photo above, shared by Joseph Abela on the Facebook group, Nostalgia Malta, shows a man known as Toni L-Hammarun from Naxxar playing this instrument. He unfortunately died in 2014 and one of the few people left alive who truly know how to play the instrument is Joseph Falzon (ir-Roy) who was taught by none other than Toni.
Have you ever seen it being played?