The legend of the Moor’s Head – Testa di Moro

 In , Curiosità

The “Testa di Moro” or Moor’s Head  is a characteristic object of the Sicilian tradition. It is a hand-painted ceramic vase used as an ornament that depicts the face of a Dark man usually accompanied by a young woman. But what do they represent? What is the story of “Moro”’s Heads?Now we tell you the legend of the Moor’s Head, Our guests who have met a couple in the living room of the BB22 Charming Rooms often asked me about it.

The young princess

The meeting

An ancient legend tells that around the year 1100, during the period of the arab domination  in Sicily, in the Kalsa district of Palermo, lived “a beautiful girl with a rosy skin comparable to peach blossoms at the height of flowering and a nice pair of eyes that seemed to reflect the beautiful Gulf of Palermo “.

The girl was almost always at home, and spent her days looking after the plants on her balcony. One day a young Moro found himself passing by, and as soon as he saw her, he immediately fell in love with her and decided to have her at all costs. Then without delay he entered the girl’s house and immediately declared his love. The girl, struck by so much ardor, returned the love of the young Moro, but soon her happiness vanished as soon as she learned that her beloved would soon leave her to return to the East, where a wife with two sons where waiting for him.


Sicilian ceramics vase in the shape of a head

The faithless Moor


So it was that the girl waited for the night and as soon as Moro fell asleep he killed him and then cut off his head. He made a vase out of the Moro’s head where he planted some basil and put it on display outside on the balcony. The Moor, in this way, unable to leave, would have remained with her forever. Meanwhile, the basil grew luxuriantly and aroused the envy of all the inhabitants of the neighborhood who, in order not to be outdone, had specially built terra-cotta pots in the shape of a Moor’s Head. Even today in the Sicilian balconies you can admire Teste di Moro, often called “Teste di Turco” of exquisite workmanship, a nice warning for all husbands!



Where to buy them

The pair of vases that welcome our guests of the BB22 Charming Rooms Palermo each morning have been purchased in a Caltagirone laboratory, a Sicilian municipality famous for ceramics processing, but you can also find them in other stores in Palermo, we recommend some Ceramiche di Sicilia, Caltagirone Ceramiche and Tre erre Ceramiche all close to us.

We hope to have enriched your knowledge on the legends of our land!

See you in Palermo!

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