Testa di moro: a legend from Palermo

Testa di moro: a legend from Palermo

Today I will tell you a story that has always fascinated me.

Have you ever seen in Sicily a ceramic vase resembling a Moors head? This is what it looks like.

Photo courtesy of Ceramiche Artigianali Ripullo (Caltagirone)

The story is very interesting: during the Moors domination in Sicily, 11 century, there was a lovely young girl who lived in the Kalsa neighborhood in Palermo. Every day she used to spend time on the balcony of her house taking care of her plants and flowers. One day a young Moor passing by saw her and was captured by her beauty and declared his love to her, which was immediately returned.

Photo courtesy of Ceramiche di Caltagirone, di Roberto Germano.

After some time, the girl discovered that her beautiful lover would soon have to leave her to return to his country where wife and children were waiting for him.

She decided then to plot her revenge: she waited for the night to come and while he was sleeping she beheaded him. What could she do with his head? She decided to use it as a vase for her lovely flowered balcony, so that her lover would stay with her forever.

She then planted some basilico which bloomed so beautifully that the whole neighborhood in Palermo copied the idea and made clay pots of the shape of a Moor head.

Photo courtesy of Ceramiche di Caltagirone, di Roberto Germano.

Today you basically find them everywhere in Sicily, but THE place of choice for ceramic production is Caltagirone.

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