Southeastern peoples have made baskets for thousands of years. Utilitarian baskets made of split cane or saw palmetto stems were common in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Coiled sweetgrass baskets became common in the 20th century and are the dominant form today.
Sweetgrass baskets became a popular tourist item in the 1930s, but they were being made before this time. These baskets are made by first stitching the coils of grass together. Then a circular piece of cardboard is covered with palmetto fiber and this serves as the base from which to build up the coiled basket. Colorful embroidery thread stitches the coils together and adds a distinctive decoration. Sometimes sweetgrass is used to make a handle or a lid, but in this case, a doll’s head made of palmetto fiber, cloth and glass beads adorns the lid.
Curator, South Florida Archaeology & Ethnography
Director, Randell Research Center
Florida Museum of Natural History
Sweetgrass Basket with Doll Lid
Made by a Seminole artist, South Florida
Dates to ~20th century
Seminoles in Florida