This colourful vase in the shape of a female Moor’s head, has been scanned in Catania, Sicily from a private collection. The name of the vase, traditionally used as a flowerpot, is “Testa di Moro” which literally translates into Moor’s head.
The legend behind this figure goes back to the Moors domination in Sicily. Legend says that during the year 1100 a beautiful Sicilian woman lived in Palermo, she would spend most of her day at home enjoying taking care of her plants in her balcony.
One day a “Moro” passes by her window and immediately falls in love with her beauty. Soon the woman finds her love for the man too and they start a passionate relationship.
Their love does not last long, the Moro has to go back to his hometown where another woman, possibly his wife, is waiting upon his return. The Sicilian girl, after finding out the disappointing news, is furious and starts planning her revenge.
One night, she waits for her lover to fall asleep and finally consumes her revenge: she kills him in his sleep by beheading him.
She transforms the lover’s head into a vase for her plants, there she plants the finest Sicilian basil which grows luscious and beautiful on her balcony. All the neighbours, jealous of her perfect basil and her beautiful “vase” decide to reproduce the head shaped vase in ceramic. From there on, Moors Head vases start appearing at every balcony.
Today, the Testa Di Moro is considered to be one of the most iconic symbols of Sicilian culture and can be found in many different shapes, materials and colours.