The African Sweetgrass Basket is a historically significant African tool and art form that was brought to America by enslaved Africans from the Windward and Rice Coasts of West Africa in the 17th century. These slaves were particularly sought after in the Atlantic slave trade to the Lowcountry because of their knowledge expertise, and experience in the cultivation of rice. The first known baskets in the Lowcountry were rice fanner baskets, used in the winnowing and harvesting of rice. These baskets were originally designed as tools used in the production, harvesting, processing, transporting, and storage of rice.
Agricultural baskets were originally made of bulrush, sweetgrass ,long needle pine, and palmetto leaves. Bulrush and palms, the mainstays of Sweetgrass Baskets are ancient plants that are mentioned in the Bible. Sweetgrass basket weaving is viewed as a gift directly from god. The art has been passed on from generation to generation, is usually learned from childhood.
In the 1890's, sweetgrass baskets began to evolve from agricultural tools into household items. Sweetgrass, a softer, finer material, replaced bulrush as a primary material. Long needle pine was added to the mix. The baskets today are made from Sweetgrass, pine needles, bull rush and palms. Basket production materials are collected in Charleston's marshes.
There are baskets for every use and occasion. Each piece is unique, very durable and will last longer than your lifetime. They are a proud tradition and a valuable investment.
Braided Top Rice Fanner