By Sarah Fiorello

Muhly grass field

Muhlenbergia sericea
syn. Muhlenbergia filipes

Enslaved Africans and their descendants handcrafted large, shallow sided, flat-bottomed baskets, known as fanner baskets, from coiled strands of muhly grass, also referred to as sweetgrass, and used the baskets to winnow chaff from rice. This ancient basket-making technique originated in West African rice farming communities and was carried over with enslaved Africans forced to work on rice plantations in the coastal lowlands of the Carolinas.

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