When transported to Charleston during the seventeenth century, Africans from the west coast of Africa brought with them a skill, now unique to the Lowcountry, that is still practiced today...the art of making sweetgrass baskets. Angela Stoneworth, mother of PCA graduate Kaila and Lena (9th), graciously took the time to share her talent and the history of sweetgrass basket-making with our 3rd grade students.
At the age of five, Angela began learning from her grandmother the art of weaving baskets making Angela a 9th generation basket weaver. That makes her daughters 10th generation basket weavers! Angela explained that the baskets were originally used for winnowing rice and have since become decorative items. However, because of how well they are made, sweetgrass baskets can be used for storage and serving dry food items and can last up to eighty years. She explained to the students that besides using sweetgrass (which is becoming more difficult to find) and pine straw to make baskets, bulrush is also used. Yes, the same grass Miriam used to make Moses' basket. How cool is that!
Not only did Angela learn a profitable skill from her grandmother, she learned the importance of forgiveness. When her grandmother's basket stand was robbed of its contents, Angela couldn't understand why her grandmother wasn't angry. After all, weaving baskets is very time-consuming, hard work, and was the family's livelihood. When Angela asked about seeking retribution, her grandmother replied, "No, I am just going to pray for them and ask God to have mercy on them." Words of wisdom that Angela abides by and shares with others.
The students clearly enjoyed Angela's presentation and were even able to try weaving a bit themselves. Angela and her husband, Darryl, own DNA Baskets. Their beautiful baskets and other unique sweetgrass items can be seen at dnabaskets.com or at their Market stand downtown across from the Haagen-Dazs ice cream store.
Thank you Angela for blessing PCA students with your talent and Spirit-filled wisdom.