It is said that around the year 1100, the period of Arabic domination in Sicily, in the Kalsa, an ancient district of the city of Palermo, lived a beautiful girl. The girl spent her days almost exclusively at home, devoting herself to the care of the plants that adorned her balcony. One day, passing through the Kalsa, a young moor saw the beautiful girl intent on watering her flowers, and immediately fell in love with her. Moved by passion, He went, without hesitation into the girl's house to declare his love for her. The girl, struck by that ardent and intense feeling, returned the love of the young moor, but when she learned that He would soon leave her to go back to her lands in the East, where the wife and her children awaited him, she took advantage of the night and killed him as he was lying asleep. The girl cut his head off, and with it, she made a vase where she planted a basil plant. In the end, She put it on display outside in the balcony, so that the man would remain forever with her. The basil grew luxuriant, thanks to the tears that the girl poured daily, but arousing the envy of all the inhabitants of the neighborhood that, not to be outdone, asked the artisans to make pottery vases in the shape of heads. By tradition, the moors heads or Turkish heads have a crown to symbolize the basil, a plant considered sacred, royal.
According to another version of the legend, the Sicilian girl was instead of noble origins, and lived a clandestine love with a young Arab, but this impossible love was soon discovered and the dishonorable act punished with the beheading of both young lovers . The shame of this love would also have been proclaimed by the affixing of both heads (turned into vases for the occasion) on a balcony. The massacre, exalted by these heads placed at the mercy of passers-by, would thus have been an active warning against every other possible inconvenient passion. For this reason the Turkish heads would be made in pairs, in memory and in honor of the two murdered lovers.