Sweetgrass Baskets, a True Charleston Treasure

One of the oldest handcrafts of African origin in the United States is the hand-woven winnowing sieve, a shallow basket that was used during the Colonia Era to separate the rice seed from its chaff.

Made in Charleston from indigenous bulrush, a strong yet supple grass that thrives in the sandy soil of the coastal region, sweetgrass baskets are now among the nation’s most prized cultural souvenirs.

With more than 50 resident artists, the Charleston City Market is the very epicenter of sweetgrass basketry. Every hand crafted basked begins with a knot around which coils of bundled grass are woven. While the materials are always the same, the design of modern baskets varies from artist to artist. Discover this centuries-old tradition at the Charleston City Market.

 "Today, the market buzzes with residents and visitors alike, perusing stalls loaded with toys, clothes, leather goods and regional souvenirs. But if you plan on buying anything here, you should head straight to the “basket ladies.” These women have been weaving baskets for centuries -- this craft originated in West Africa and has been passed down through the generations -- using local materials such as sweetgrass and palmetto leaves." — U.S. News & World Report