The origin of the Moro's heads, wonderful handcrafted anthropomorphic objects, is uncertain and linked to several stories. Giovanni Boccaccio is the author of one of the most famous, put in black and white in the Decameron, and narrated through the character Filomena: "The sad story of Isabetta da Messina". According to this story, Isabetta's lover was killed but appeared to her in a dream to reveal her whereabouts. Since she couldn't take the body away, she decided to keep the head of her beloved: she put it in a vase, covered it with earth and planted so much basil that it grew luxuriant thanks to her tears.
There are different versions of the story just told, but the most popular takes place in Palermo, in the Arab quarter, during the domination of the Moors. The protagonist is a beautiful girl who spent her days on her balcony, dedicating herself to the care of the plants that adorned it. One day she was noticed by a young Moro who, struck by so much beauty, declared his love for her. The girl, struck by that promise of love, passionately reciprocated the suitor's sentiment. However, he was hiding a secret: his family was waiting for him in the East, where he was supposed to return. When the girl found out, she decided to take revenge: one night, while the Moor was sleeping, she killed him and cut off his head, creating an object similar to a vase with it. Inside, she placed a sprout of basil and placed the vase on the balcony, to take care of it as she used to do... thus her love would never leave her. The plant grew luxuriantly and its scent attracted the attention of the neighbours, who began to envy that particular object so much that they copied it: this is how the Dark Brown-shaped vases were born.
THE OBJECT AS AN ORNAMENT
It was all the legends and tales associated with the Moorish heads, handed down from generation to generation, that nourished the creativity of the Palermitan artisans. A creativity that has spread throughout Sicily and the countless balconies adorned with these splendid objects bear witness to this. In particular, the Teste di Moro of Caltagirone are renowned: the main place for the production of ceramics of the highest quality.