The ‘Balcony Corbels’ series, designed by artist Cedric Galea Pirotta this year includes a set of three stamps featuring Maltese balcony corbels.While walking around Malta, one notes the typical style of the balconies, especially in the historical centres of the Islands. These balconies vary in size and style with the oldest ones being open and made of stone.Another type is wooden, which is usually closed and includes glass windows. Some households prefer to adorn their balconies with plants and flowers, or decorate their balconies during certain times of the year, such as during the village festa, Christmas and Good Friday. Apart from this, the most practical function of the balcony remains that of controlling the temperature of the house and providing natural light and air circulation.One feature of these balconies is that known as the ‘corbels’ or saljaturi that serve as support beneath the structure. Apart from the support they offer corbels are usually used to decorate the balcony and hence the whole facade of the building. Corbels may be used on all types of balconies and are in fact a very popular feature throughout Malta.
One vibrant feature of balconies in Malta is that known as the ‘corbels’ or saljaturi. Besides offering support, corbels are usually used to decorate the balcony and hence the whole facade of the building. In medieval architecture, balconies and corbels were a form of defence. Corbels were used to support upper storeys or a parapet projecting forward from the façade, often to form machicolation – openings used to drop objects such as oil or stone onto attackers. Over the years corbels served less of a defence role and more of a decorative one. During the Baroque period of the 17th century, particularly in Valletta and, to a lesser extent, in Mdina, the Maltese balcony reached the pinnacle of its splendour. Isolated specimens, resembling the Maltese closed balcony, may be found in Europe and South America. Yet, the fact remains that only in Malta did the closed balcony become the overwhelmingly important feature known to us today. A few years after the war, Malta suffered an abomination of shiny aluminium balconies. Parallel to the glittering aluminium balconies, the post-independence period saw an increase of balconies completely encased in engraved stone.
Whereas balconies, before, may have served to portray the household’s social status, for many years corbels fell into disrepair and allowed to deteriorate. Nowadays, however, more importance has been given to conserving these architectural gems and many have been restored to their former glory, as can be seen in old villages and towns particularly in Valletta, Mdina and Gozo.
Issue Date: 30.03.2017 Designer: Cedric Galea Pirotta Process: Offset Size: Sheet:185mm x 118mm, stamp: 31mm x 44mm Values: €0.51, €1.32, €1.55