Caltagirone: sicilian moorish heads ceramics
Caltagirone: sicilian moorish heads ceramics

Sicily | Caltagirone | The Moors Head

Caltagirone | Sicily

Caltagirone, the city of ceramists. The name comes from an Arabic word meaning castle or fortress of vases.

With the Arabs, Caltagirone flourished, both in agriculture and in the production of ceramics; this crockery became a daily use and spread throughout Sicily.

In the 19th century, ceramics were used in architecture, during which time Villa Carolina, the neo-Gothic style cemetery and the public garden were built: both in Caltagirone.

Today the city offers visitors a puzzle of different styles: Baroque, Art Nouveau and Medieval, and where it is possible to see the largest ceramic panel ever made; it represents the battle of Judica, won by the Calatini over the Saracens.

The legend of the head of the Moors

In Palermo, about the year 1000, there lived in the Arab quarter of Kalsa a beautiful young maid with fair skin and eyes that matched the colour of the Sicilian blue sea. She led a quiet life and spent her days tending to her plants.

One day, from her beautiful balcony, she was noticed by a Moor who immediately fell in love with her and did not hesitate to declare his love for her. But one day the young woman learned that her lover had to return to the Middle East where he had a wife and children.

The young woman, deceived and humiliated, killed the man in the middle of the night while he was sleeping, cut off his head and used it to create a kind of vase in which she planted basil. The plant, with its intoxicating fragrance, a symbol of royalty, but also of love and passion, grew luxuriantly, so that the neighbourhood began to create pots in terracotta with the features of the head of the moor.

Fashion | Moorish Trend Accessories

The design of the heads, the luxurious embellishments, the color palette used made the Moorish head so popular that the fashion world is using the ceramics as home furnishings and the luxury brand Dolce and Gabbana made an entire collection with the Moorish head.

The popularity of the heads is now so well known as an iconic symbol of Sicily that they are now also regularly used as props at weddings and events on the island and you will see them literally everywhere.