Testa di Moro (Moor head) is a characteristic object of Sicilian tradition. It is a hand-painted ceramic vase used as an ornament that depicts the face of a Moor and sometimes of a young beautiful woman. According to an ancient legend, around 1100, during the period of Saracen domination in Sicily, in Kalsa district of Palermo, lived a beautiful girl with pink skin, like the colour of peach flowers in full blossoming, and her eyes that seemed to reflect the beautiful Gulf of Palermo. The girl stayed always at home, spending her days taking care of the plants of her balcony. One day a young Moor was passing near her house. As soon as he saw her, he immediately fell in love and decided to have her at all costs. Then immediately he went into the house of the girl and declared his love. The girl returned the love of the young Moor, but soon her happiness vanished when she learned that her beloved would soon left to return to the East, where he has a wife with two sons. So the girl waited the night and when he fell asleep she killed him and then cut off his head. She used the head of the Moor to make a pot where she planted basil, and then put it outside in the balcony. The Moor, in this way, would have stayed forever with her. Meanwhile the basil grew very well, for this reason all the inhabitants of the neighbourhood envied her. So, to be nothing less than her, they ordered some pots made with clay, in the shape of Moor head. Even today in the Sicilian balconies you can admire the Moor heads often also called “Turkish heads” of fine workmanship. You can appreciate the art of hand painted ceramic in the art of the Master Nicolò Giuliano in Palermo. You can choose one of the best Villas in Palermo from our catalogue. Browse it and choose the best solution for your stay.
History of Pulcinella: the traditional Neapolitan mask
Italy is a country where the ancient traditions that originated in certain regions, but which then spread throughout the country, are still alive today. One of these is the one concerning the traditional Neapolitan legend of Pulcinella. Here we tell you the story of the origin of this mask and it’s uses throughout history. You can also find out where the name came from and about the clothing that makes up the costume, as well as some of the actors who have played this character over the years.

Its origins
The mask as it is known today was born in the second half of 1500, created by Silvio Fiorillo and it featured a character with a bicorn hat and a thick mustache and beard; these disappeared in 1800 when Antonio Petito presented his Pulcinella in the version which has reached the present day: a large white shirt, a cone shaped hat and a black mask with a long, hooked nose. He is one of the first characters born with the advent and popularity of the Commedia dell’Arte. However, its origin is much older and it is still uncertain today. One of the theories is that it refers to a farmer from Acerra called Puccio D’Aniello who, in 1600 joined a company of wanderers passing through the village as a buffoon. Others see in Pulcinella a revisitation of Maccus, a character of the Roman Atells of the fourth century B. C. a very popular show at the time.

His name and His costume
But there is more, Fiorillo was inspired as is known by the figure of the farmer of Acerra. Even today, this mask still embodies popular and peasant astuteness, able to bring out a smile, the character who regularly gets himself into trouble. In the metaphor, he represents the answer that the common people could give to the abuses they were subjected to by the rich and powerful. Pulcinella is not without faults, indeed, but he reflects the desire for revenge of those who are born less fortunate and, ironically, teases those in power. For this universal message, in various eras, he has also been popular abroad and from him various characters derived others such as Polichinelle in France and Punch in England. The origins of the name are uncertain. One theory is that it comes from a mispronunciation of a widespread surname of the time in the city of Naples, but most likely it is a contraction of Puccio d’Aniella and, for some historians, the nose in the shape of a beak was inspired by the name which recalls a chick.

Back to Home Page