web analytics
random

Sweetgrass Baskets and Their History

sweetgrass1

Growing up in beautiful Charleston, SC,  you become aware of it’s tainted past rather early on.  As you may know, Charleston, SC  was one of the main hubs in the Atlantic Slave Trade. In particular, enslaved West Africans were traded from an area known as the Rice Coast. These Africans were sought out because of their knowledge of rice cultivation, which was a main cash crop of the Charleston plantations. Other than the knowledge of rice cultivation many of the enslaved Africans brought over other traditions, and skills.

If you have ever walked through The Charleston City Market, or as we call it, the Market, or if you’ve driven along highway 17 North in Mount Pleasant you may have noticed beautifully crafted coiled baskets, known as Sweetgrass baskets. Though basketmaking isn’t unique to the Gullah/Geechee people, the coiled style, in which Sweetgrass baskets are made, is unique.             

sweetgrassbasket

 

The Fanner baskets, also called winnowing baskets, were the first known basket in the lowcountry. They first appeared in the 17th century . Fanner baskets were used for winnowing rice. Winnowing is the process of using the wind to separate chaff from the rice grain.  Large baskets, commonly made by men, were used to collect, and store vegetables, fruit, cotton and other items for the plantation. These baskets were made of a marsh grass called bulrush. West African’s were used to using bulrush and palm because both are found in Africa. Other types of baskets were used to store fruit, grains, vegetables, and even seafood. Baskets, made for use around the house by women, to store food, clothing, and sewing/knitting supplies were made using sweetgrass-a softer marsh grass. Another reason sweetgrass was used, was because of the sweet fragrance, which smells similar to fresh hay.

 Today’s baskets are mostly made from  sweetgrass, bulrush, palms, and pine needles.  Sweetgrass baskets come in many sizes, and many intricate designs. Today people are making everything from household items, such as drink coasters, to hats, even earrings using the Sweetgrass  technique. The proud tradition of making Sweetgrass baskets is alive today, because the art has been passed down from generation to generation. However, getting sweetgrass is becoming a problem for many basket makers, because of the development of marshland.

 

All images licensed through a creative commons license.

Buy now and see what comes after my why! http://www.divaswithapurpose.com/after-why-comes-how/

About the author

Shalawn

Shalawn was born and raised in Charleston, SC and is now a resident of Charlotte, NC. She's a wife, and a mother to a very spoiled fur baby. Shalawn loves to laugh and spend time with her friends and family. She enjoys reading, crafting,helping others, traveling and learning about new things and places. Shalawn recently opened an online extension to her budding business , Geechee Girl Gift Shop: www.geecheegirlgiftshop.com. Twitter: @gecheesoul

9 Comments

Click here to post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Magazine Newsletter

Magazine Newsletter

Click the picture to be taken to our newsletter sign up! You get a personal mini magazine on the 1st of every month.

Our Instagram

No images found!
Try some other hashtag or username

kokoamedia

kokoamedia

Kokoa Media and Branding is a full service media and branding company (Kokoa Magazine falls under that) we offer graphic design, branding, and social media marketing/management

Latest Pins

Sorry:
- Please recheck your ID.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: