A Moor’s head, since the 11th century, is a symbol depicting the head of a black moor. The precise origin of the Moor’s head is a subject of controversy. But the most likely explanation is that it is derived from the heraldic war flag of the Reconquista depicting the Cross of Alcoraz, symbolizing Peter I of Aragon and Pamplona’s victory over the “Moorish” kings of the Taifa of Zaragoza in the Battle of Alcoraz in 1096. The blindfold may originally have been a headband. Another theory claims that it is the Nubian Saint Maurice (3rd century AD).

A Moor's head, since the 11th century, is a symbol depicting the head of a black moor.

Moor's head from Corsica's Flag

Origin

The precise origin of the Moor's head is a subject of controversy. But the most likely explanation is that it is derived from the heraldic war flag of the Reconquista depicting the Cross of Alcoraz, symbolizing Peter I of Aragon and Pamplona's victory over the "Moorish" kings of the Taifa of Zaragoza in the Battle of Alcoraz in 1096. The blindfold may originally have been a headband.[1]

Another theory claims that it is the Nubian Saint Maurice (3rd century AD).[2]

The earliest heraldic use of the Moor's head is first recorded in 1281, during the reign of Peter III of Aragon and represents the Cross of Alcoraz, which the King adopted as his personal coat of arms.[3] The Crown of Aragon had for a long time governed Sardinia and Corsica, having been granted the islands by the Pope, although they never really exercised formal control. The Moor's head became a symbol of the islands.[4]

Flags, seals, and emblems

This symbol is used in heraldry, vexillography, and political imagery.

Flag of Corsica

The main charge in the coat of arms in Corsica is a U Moru, Corsican for "The Moor". An early version is attested in the 14th-century Gelre Armorial, where an unblindfolded Moor's head represents Corsica as a state of the Crown of Aragon. Interestingly, the Moor's head is attached to his shoulders and upper body, and he is alive and smiling. In 1736, it was used by both sides during the struggle for independence.

In 1760, General Pasquale Paoli ordered the necklace to be removed from the head and the blindfold raised. His reason, reported by his biographers, was "Les Corses veulent y voir clair. La liberté doit marcher au flambeau de la philosophie. Ne dirait-on pas que nous craignons la lumière ?" (English: "The Corsicans want to see clearly. Freedom must walk by the torch of philosophy. Won't they say that we fear the light?") The blindfold was thereafter changed to a headband.

The current flag of Corsica is the Bandera testa Mora, 'Flag with head of Moor'), is male rather than female, and has a regular knot at the back of the head.

Flag of Sardinia

The flag of Sardinia is informally known as the Four Moors (Italian: I quattro mori, Logudorese: Sos Bator Moros, Campidanese: Is Cuatru Morus) and comprises four Moor heads.

African Unification Front

The "Maure" is the African Unification Front's flag and emblem. The head is blindfolded representing the impartiality of justice, and the knot is tied into a stylized Adinkra symbol for omnipotence (Gye Nyame).[5]

Modern controversy

 
Bottle of Mohrenbrauerei

Modern anti-racism efforts, coupled with increased African immigration to Europe and a growth of the Afro-European population, have led to controversies around ancient "Moor's head" symbols.[6] For example, the Austrian company Mohrenbrauerei was asked to remove the "Moor's head" from its bottles.[7]

Gallery

See also

References

Further reading

External links

 

Deutsch: Mohr
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English: Moor head
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Español: Cabeza de moro
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Français : Tête de Maure
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Italiano: Testo di Moro
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cabeza de moro; 莫爾; Maure; testa di moro; 莫尔; Mairu-buru; Маврова голова (геральдика); 莫爾; cap de moro; 莫尔; Mohr; morenkop; Moor's head; голова мавра; hlava mouřenína; 莫爾; figura araldica; figure héraldique; heraldische Figur; figura heràldica; heraldic figure; геральдическая фигура; obecná heraldická figura; heraldisch figuur; Blackamoor; Blackamore; Black moor; Blackamoor's head; Negro's head; Maure; hlava černocha; moriaanshoofd
Moor's head 
heraldic figure
Flag of Corsica.svg
Maure as used on the flag of Corsica
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