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The traditional Sicilian ceramics

Traditional Sicilian ceramics represent the perfect blend of art, craftsmanship and culture. A centuries-old tradition that is still proudly carried on today, so much so that Sicilian ceramics is now synonymous with excellence around the world.

Le tradizionali Pigne siciliane
Traditional Sicilian Pine Cones

Sicilian ceramics through history

Traditional pottery making in Sicily has ancient origins, dating as far back as the Neolithic Age. The abundance of raw material and the strategic location of the island, together with the succession of foreign dominations over the centuries, have influenced its manufacture.

Despite the continuous flow of peoples on the island, Sicilian ceramic art has nevertheless managed to retain its own unmistakable character, thanks not only to the abundant presence of clay, but also of water and fire, derived from firewood from the forests.

The advent of the Arabs strongly influenced the production of ceramics, introducing the technique of glazing. By sprinkling a mixture of substances on the surface of the object it then became possible to achieve a vitrified effect, as well as to waterproof ceramic vessels.

Tradizionali ceramiche siciliane
Traditional Sicilian ceramics

Pottery making in Syracuse

Pottery today is worked throughout Sicily, especially in the towns of Santo Stefano di Camastra, Caltagirone and Sciacca, as well as Syracuse, of course. Majolica, terracotta, souvenirs and everyday objects are among the main works that are churned out daily. Among the most sought-after traditional objects are Pine Cones and Moro Heads.

The Sicilian pine cone, which can be found in different colors, symbolizes fertility, prosperity and abundance.

The Moro head, on the other hand, is a hand-painted vase with strong cultural symbolism. The pottery generally depicts an Arab’s face, as well as faces of good-looking young women. The meaning can be found in an ancient legend dating back to the year 1000.

The story goes that an Arab man fell madly in love with a young woman who used to tend plants on the balcony of her house in Palermo, declaring his love for her. The young man, however, was hiding a secret: in fact, at home in the East he had a wife and children waiting for him. Discovering the betrayal, the young woman cut off her lover's head. To keep him always by her side, she reproduced his head in a ceramic vase, planting a basil seed inside it, a symbol of sacredness. It was later noticed by local residents, who commissioned numerous reproductions of this particular ornament.

Pottery workshops: plates and pine cones

To fully appreciate the art of Sicilian craftsmanship, it is possible to have an unforgettable experience by taking part in a pottery workshop in Syracuse. Much more than just a guided tour, but an opportunity to create an object by hand with clay.

Make a plate and try your hand at creating a traditional Sicilian pine cone, a symbol of prosperity and welcome.

Contact us: the Hotel Algilà staff is available to provide information and organize the experience.


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