Sweetgrass

Charleston’s Basket Ladies

Among the most honored people in Charleston are the Basket Ladies. You’ll find them plying their trade on the sidewalks around the Market area of downtown Charleston, or working in roadside stands along U.S. 17 North in Mt. Pleasant.

The Basket Ladies are direct descendants of West Africans who were brought to Charleston as slaves. They brought their sweetgrass basket-making skills with them, and ever since then the skills have been passed down from one generation to the next.

The baskets themselves are unique; they are not available anywhere else in the world, except West Africa and in several museums, including the Smithsonian.

But one warning: Please do not photograph any Basket Ladies without their permission. They’re wonderful, warm, friendly women, but they really do not like their photos being taken.

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