Zahira Tortora Sicilian Moorish Head
Descriptions & details
Sicily is a land of strong passions that are at the heart of its legends and its art. Moorish heads, with their mysterious origins, their bold colors and their extravagant decorations, are one of the most recognizable symbols of the island.
These Moorish heads are handcrafted in Caltagirone, one of the most vibrant hubs of Sicilian pottery for many centuries. Its maker, Ceramiche Sofia, belongs to a new generation of local artisans who have rapidly become a household name thanks to their strong skills, knowledge, and passion for their craft.
Handmade & hand-painted in Caltagirone, Italy
The Legend of the Moorish Heads
The legend of Moorish Heads is about a girl from the Kalsa, the colorful Arab district of Palermo, and her sweetheart, a dark-skinned merchant. Their love story ended abruptly when the girl discovered that her lover already had a wife and children waiting for him back in his home country.
Crazy with jealousy, the girl waited for him to fall asleep and cut off his head. Then, wishing to enjoy the sight of his handsome lover forever, she decided to place his head on her balcony and use it to grow her favorite herb: basil.
The plant thrived in its special vase, its fragrance filling the neighborhood. People began to suspect that the secret of the girl's basil lay in the beauty of the vase and began molding colorful planters in the shape of Moorish heads.
Ceramiche Sofia is a family-run pottery studio founded by the Intonato brothers at the turn of the century.
Giuseppe and Nicola have worked very hard to gain recognition in a town, Caltagirone, where most pottery-making businesses have successfully been passed down through many generations. Eventually, their talents and resilience have won him the favors of ceramic lovers (and ours!). The quality of their work is outstanding, as is their pottery's sheer size and physicality. Delving into Caltagirone's past and using traditional production methods, they create exquisite collections that capture the essence of the local heritage while contributing to the future of Sicilian pottery.
Caltagirone is a lively Baroque town in central Sicily. It has been known for its superb ceramic production for over a thousand years. Indeed, its name derives from an Arabic word meaning the Castle or Fortress of the vases.
As with most pottery-making traditions, the production started with functional vessels and later evolved into ornamental ceramics. Beautifully handcrafted tiles and vases have been used for centuries to decorate public and private buildings, parks, churches, streets, squares and the renowned Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte with its 142 magnificent majolica stair risers.
A visit to the Regional Museum of Ceramics is a must to appreciate the artistic value of Sicilian pottery and its evolution over the centuries.