Palmetto Culture – Sweetgrass Basket-Weaving

credit to fourcorners.com for pictures

credit to fourcorners.com for pictures


Crafts such as jewelry, pottery, fans, and quilts reflected the African Styles. Sweetgrass Basket-weaving was one of the most dominant crafts in the region. It has been discovered that there is a strong link in weave pattern, design, and final product between the flat and fanner baskets of the Carolinas and those of Nigeria, Togo, Benin, and Ghana. The Sea Islanders have similar coiling techniques, stitching techniques, and patterns.

So just a bit on how to actually weave the baskets: Most baskets follow a similar coil technique. The knot is used as the base. The free ends are bundled, folded, and wound around the knot to form a coil. The opening is pierced in the center knot and a strip of palm leaf is pulled through the opening, wrapped around the grass coil, and pulled back through for a second opening, which is made to anchor or station the coil. As the process is repeated, the coil begins to circle out from the center knot to create a basket base that is circular or oval. From the base, the basket is constructed by the changing angle at which one circular row is fasted to another.

Sweetgrass Baskets were made for practical purposes, such as winnowing rice, carrying clothing, cradling infants, and fanning and sorting foods. The work baskets were made of sturdy leaves like bulrushes and palmettos. However, in modern times, customers are more interested in the “show baskets.” These baskets are lighter, more colorful, and less study. So in other words, don’t try to winnow your rice in these particular show pieces šŸ™‚ .

The children, both boys and girls were taught basket-making along with other traditional skills. Children learn to weave by the age of six (Oh how I wish I had learned right along with them). By their teens they would have mastered their own style.

Marshland Coming Soon.

This information is better detailed in the book, When Roots Die by Patricia Jones-Jackson and Charles Joyner. http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Jones-Jackson/e/B000APQS88

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