Moor's head (heraldry)

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Moor's head depicted in profile, couped at the neck sable banded about the temples gules and argent.

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


The precise origin of the Moor's head is a subject of controversy. One theory holds that it symbolizes Peter I of Aragon and Pamplona's victory over the "Moorish" kings of the Taifa of Zaragoza in the Battle of Alcoraz. The blindfold may originally have been a headband.[1]

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

Its use is first recorded in 1281, during the reign of Peter III of Aragon.[3] The Aragonese had for a long time influence over Sardinia and Corsica, being granted the islands by the Pope, although they never really exercised formal control. From this, the Moor's head became a symbol of those islands.[4]

Flags, seals, and emblems[edit]

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

Flag of Corsica[edit]

The main charge in the coat of arms in Corsica is 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?") Later the blindfold was 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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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 Mohrenbrauerei was asked to remove the "Moor's head" from its bottles.[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Corsica (France, Traditional province)".
  2. ^ "Flag of Corsica". Traghetti Corsica EN. February 17, 2015.
  3. ^ ""Moor's head" Peter aragon - Google Search".
  4. ^ Martone, Eric (December 8, 2008). Encyclopedia of Blacks in European History and Culture [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780313344497 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "African Unification Front Flags & Emblems". Retrieved 2019-01-14.
  6. ^ "Is the emblem of a Bern guild racist?". SWI
  7. ^ "Racism in a beer logo (2012)". April 25, 2016.
  8. ^öhringen_(Stuttgart)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]