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Photographer's Note

The Eye of Osiris Egyptian god protects Maltese fishing boats.
Bright, vividly painted fishing boats line the bays of Malta’s small villages. Their most prominent feature is the pair of carved and painted eyes. Although many boats are named after a Catholic Saint, the boats wear the eyes of Osiris, a pagan god.

For centuries, the fishing boats, painted in the primary colors - blues, greens, reds and yellows - call upon the eyes to ward off the devil. The eyes represent Osiris, an Egyptian god who was drowned by Seth, a fellow god. Seth tore Osiris into 14 pieces and flung the pieces around the earth. When the goddess Isis found the pieces, she buried them and gave new life to Osiris, who remained the god of the underworld. He ruled both over the dead as well as the living, since his power granted all life. When Egyptian rulers died, they believed they became one with Osiris and thus, immortal.

The story of Osiris is only one of the many Maltese beliefs. Many churches have two clocks in their belfries – one tells the correct time, the other is set to the wrong time in order to confuse and distract the devil. Maltese country homes often have bulls’ horns on the roof, again to ward off the devil. The horns are usually near a holy image, to highlight the importance of their Catholic faith.

St. Julian’s, Marsaxlokk, the Blue Grotto and many other villages are loaded with luzzu, the traditional high prowed fishing boat. Walk along the docks to get a close look at the Eye of Osiris.

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Additional Photos by Morten Bjerregaard (mbhhas) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 13 W: 1 N: 22] (307)
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