The Sweetgrass Basket, A Charleston Tradition

When you visit Charleston, you will quickly notice the many grass baskets for sale in the market of downtown and along the highways.  These are sweetgrass baskets, and they have been a part of the Charleston and low country community for many years.  They are symbolic of the culture and history that has shaped the region.

The basket making tradition was brought to the area by slaves from West Africa as an art form that was passed down from generation to generation.  You can find many vendors in Charleston and Mount Pleasant, SC carrying on the tradition of sweetgrass basket making.

During the days of slavery, baskets were in high demand as agriculture was the fundamental driver of the Southern economy, and thus grass baskets were a very popular means to carry materials, food, and produce.  Some of the baskets were used for functional storing or carrying, whereas others were used within the home to display various items.  Sweetgrass was used because of its soft, pliable texture and pleasant fragrance, making it ideal for the home.

After slavery, basket making was preserved as an art form within the African American community.  For generations it was passed down to preserve the cultural traditions of West Africa.  Specifically, it was an art passed from mother to daughter to granddaughter, as both a means to connect with a cultural tradition.Today, most sweetgrass baskets are built along the shoulders of Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant, but you can also find them in the market and along the streets of downtown Charleston.  They truly offer visitors a taste of Charleston history and the cultural influences that shaped the low country.

When you visit Charleston, you should definitely make time to visit the market, and witness the art of sweet grass basket making.  It is truly a unique and local art.  If you are interested in visiting Charleston in the near future, then don’t hesitate to reach out to make your reservation at the Governors House Inn.  You can book your next stay online or by phone, (800) 720-9812.   Don’t miss the opportunity to find out why so many people are talking about this beautiful, Southern city.





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