It’s funny with people coming up with clichéd quotes like never judge a book by its cover, at the same time being completely at the mercy of their own indignant insecurities. What does all this mean and what’s its relevancy to the Maltese Furban and Piracy?

So people are prejudiced1

Maltese Corsair with 8 pointed cross tattoo (Knights of Malta Museum Mdina)

The first paradigm one should keep in mind when delving within the topic of piracy is not what Disney conditioned everyone to abide with. Contrarily, Piracy always meant Freedom…the non-conformity to the everyday prejudices whilst being completely detached to the opinions formed. Maybe this is too cerebral, let me put it in layman’s terms, why should you give a fuck about opinions? Don’t expect anyone to change however…this also means your own sense of liberation as they can’t change you either.

The Maltese Galley – an almost 100% success rate in Battle.
Tattoo sketch – courtesy of

So people are prejudiced2Pirate attitude was in your face, unapologetic the sole purpose in life was the “jazz” of being on the front line, the high Risks and high Rewards lifestyle on the sea, where danger and dominance went hand in hand and you could lose an eye and arm. Now, when presenting this context and we mix it all up with symbolism it should be easy to understand why body art (tattoos), piercings and the not-give-a-fuck attitude of pirates boiled down to a stereotypical image.
To the pirates and sailors, the symbols tattooed on their body reflected the meaning attached to the symbols; like a pig tattooed on one foot and chicken the other which was supposed to protect you from drowning. A shark tattoo meant survivor, or dangerous motherfucker 🙂 but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate either as symbolism and body art gained symbolism with the sailors who navigated the seas from continent to continent and expanded their respective consciousness 🙂 When cultures mix so do ideologies and despite differences a consensus is usually reached when the interests are intertwined. This has been a touch vague but all it boils down to is individualism. Why? Because a tattooed symbol for one person will probably have one particular interpretation and another for another motherfucker 🙂
Which leads me to the subject of Furban Malti, you see from a historical perspective Pirates & ‘legalised’ Corsairs per-se might be a thing of the past as our research proved fruitless in trying to pinpoint particular tattoos Maltese Furbani carried, however their quench for freedom is eternal and hence is just ONE interpretation of what Our
(Furban Malti brand) symbolism means; the non-give-a-fuck attitude, past and present 🙂

In the present we are who we are thanks to our ancestors, and our ancestors had their own fair share of intermingling of cultures. According to our research, tattoos have been around in the Mediterranean from the ancient world; from the Egyptians to the Roman times to the time of the Knights and Christian and Muslim symbolism and again interpretations varied:

The later rise of the Catholic Church resulted in tattoos outlawed and thus a decline of tattoos in certain European countries.

Yet during the Ottoman occupation of Bosnia it was common for both Women and Children to tattoo themselves with Christian Symbols in hopes of protecting themselves from being taken away by Turkish men into captivity.

So people are prejudiced3Maltese Furban –
Tattoo sketch – courtesy of

The Ottoman Marines were known to be tattooed with Janissaries tattooed according to their ‘Orta’ on their Palms.

The ‘nature’ of the ‘Corsair’ profession meant they were certainly to come across ‘Ottoman’ tattooing art. Also the various European nationalities forming a Corsair Crew meant greater chances of exposure to tattooing due to various travels/voyages and contact with foreign sailors.

Maltese Furbani were constantly faced with the possibility of death and enslavement from battle, this was overshadowed by the even more frightening prospect of being at the mercy of the elements at sea… Therefore the feel for the need for religious images on their bodies to ‘appease the angry powers that caused storms and drowning and a safe return back home’ like many sailors, must have been great. Bearing also in mind the Catholic churches’ stance on tattooing and religious fanaticism at the time it is likely that Crucifix and Cross Tattoos would have been the Corsairs’ choice.

So in conclusion knowing what you now know, are you going to be affected with ‘your’ typical, average, mediocre judgmental opinion? The question you should be asking yourself is….are you a Furban Malti? 🙂

Author: admin

Related Posts