Has anyone ever come to Sicily, even just once, and not noticed a Testa di Moro sitting on a balcony, or placed in a traditional Sicilian restaurant, or being sold in one of the many ceramic shops? Majolica art was brought to Sicily by the Arabs, who taught the Sicilians how to create these truly marvelous masterpieces of art.
There are many different types of objects that can be made by using distinct colors, forms, and motifs painted on the ceramic.
However, the most fascinating and popular ceramics are the Teste di Moro. The legend behind these figures comes from the XI century when the Moors dominated Sicily and, like so many legends, is supposedly all the fault of Cupid.
One day, a girl who lived in the Arab district of Palermo, the Kalsa, was taking care of some plants and flowers on the balcony of her house. Suddenly, a dark-skinned merchant passed by and they immediately fell in love with one another. They began their love story together until the young girl discovered that her lover already had a wife and children waiting for him back in his home country.
One night while he slept, the girl, crazed with jealousy, thought of a way to make him stay with her forever! Without blinking an eye she cut off his head and decided to use it as a vase to grow her beautiful basil.
As people would walk by her balcony, they began to become jealous of her thriving basil, and so they began creating colorful vases with clay heads. Today there are many different styles of ceramics heads, but the most traditional are a man of color and a beautiful girl.