The Moor heads: a tradition as ancient as the legend

Sicilian Moor heads

You are spending a holiday in Palermo. Arrive at Porta Termini, where there was the Alberghiera. Here there was the entrance of the ancient Medieval Kalsa, a Fatimid citadel. While you are walking along the picturesque and narrow rue (ancient streets), look up. On the balconies of the buildings, you may notice the characteristic Sicilian Moor heads.

The legend dates back to the 1100 A.D. The Kalsa was dominated by the Moors. And a beautiful young maid lived there. She liked spending her days taking care of the plants of her own balcony.

One day, a young Moor were walking along the streets of Kalsa. He saw the beautiful girl and fell madly in love, instantly. He decided that without her he could not live: he entered the woman’s house and declared his eternal love. The girl, struck by so much passion, returned the love of the Moor.

But one day, she discovered that the young Moor would leave her to return in the Middle East, where a wife and a children were waiting for him. The young maid waited until nightfall. When the Moor was fallen asleep, she killed him, cut off his head, made a pot in which she planted basil, and put it on her balcony.

Basil grew lush, arousing the admiration (and the envy) of other residents. Since that time, people wanted Moor head-shaped terracotta vases to plant basil. Terracotta vases that is possible to see even today, walking along the narrow streets of Kalsa.


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