Teste di Moro (Moorish Heads)

Finished carving two woodblocks today inspired by a 900 year old Sicilian legend which I particularly love as it encapsulates so many aspects of this island that I love, the many layers of multi-cultural history, the passion and the endless element of surprise. There are several versions, but this is my favourite, as it’s set in Palermo!

One day, a beautiful and honorable young girl living in the Kalsa, the Arabic district of Palermo, was tending to the plants and flowers in the balcony when suddenly, a Moor merchant who was passing by saw her and fell in love with the beautiful girl who immediately returned his love.

They started having a love affair until one day she discovered he had a wife and children waiting for him in his native land. She was overcome with jealousy and one night she thought of a way to make him stay with her forever……while he was sleeping, she cut off his head and cleverly decided to use it as a vase to grow her beautiful basil plant.

People walking below her balcony started looking at her flourishing basil plants and became jealous of the size and fragrance of her plants, so they began to forge colourful clay heads pots wishing to have the same magic green thumb.

Now, these ceramic heads can be seen all over Sicily, in all shapes and sizes.

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