The baskets pictured above are made of locally-harvested sweetgrass, bulrush marsh grass, and palm. They have been woven by the Gullah-Geechee people for over 300 years. Being made of durable materials, they were originally used to transport rice and other items. Now, they are mostly used for decorative purposes and admired for their distinct coiled patterns and details. Their style derives from African basket-weaving tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. Typically, basket weaving is a skill learned from childhood, requiring a great deal of patience. For these reasons they fetch a pretty penny, but you can be confident in supporting a one-of-a-kind piece of coastal tradition that will outlast your lifetime. It has become custom to pass sweetgrass baskets down through the family (similar to Nantucket baskets).
If you are looking for more variety for your money, there’s a five-mile stretch of Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant called “Sweetgrass Basket Makers Highway.” Here, Gullah-Geechee descendants can set up shop and sell their craft to those coming in and out of Charleston. Notice the word “descendants” – to have a stand on Highway 17, you must inherit it. Rights to stand cannot be sold.
Posts are a combination of my own research, visits, and conversations, plus various information found around the web. I try to provide sources, but if you have specific questions, feel free to ask!