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Testa di Moro

The Iconic Sicilian Testa di Moro often presented in the form of ceramic decorations adorned on the balconies or in the old villas of the island of Sicily. These are known as the “Testa di Moro,” meaning Moors head. A legend surrounded by mystery, romance and revenge.
The story unfolds in the Arab quarter of Palermo in the little town of Kalsa during the year 1100 when the Moors had conquered Sicily. During this time, the Moors built ceramic workshops all over the island while introducing new techniques consisting of new shapes and colors of majolica to the local Sicilians.

As the legend goes, a wealthy young Moorish man and a young Sicilian maiden fell deeply in love. But when she was told that he had to return back home where his wife and children awaited, the young maiden decapitated her beloved so he could never leave her.

The morning after, she turned his head into a pot, filling it with basil, a symbol of passion and royalty, and placed it on her balcony. The symbol grew lush, and aroused the envy of the local residents who ordered the construction of similar vessels. Today these ornamental vases, worked in ceramics and hand-painted by master craftsmen, is a very special symbol in Sicily.


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