A traditional coil sweet grass basket with side handles that was made in Hamlin Sound, South Carolina. The artist is a renowned seagrass basket weaver and was designated as a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1984 for her work.
Mary Jane Manigault was born outside of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina on June 13, 1913. The area is referred to as Lowcountry because geographically it is mostly at or under sea level. Also, a vital region of Gullah culture Manigault learned the tradition of coiled basket weaving from her parents at age 8. Bought to the Americas by African slaves, the craft has been practiced in the sea islands off the coast of the southeastern United States since the late 17th century. European colonists depended on the Africans knowledge of tropical farming to produce rice, the region's cash crop. The slaves developed specialized agriculture tools, including baskets for winnowing.
Manigault's baskets have received great praise for their sculptural quality, design, and color. Though she does experiment with her designs she prides herself on not over decorating her baskets to preserve the tradition. Manigualt suffered a stroke in December of 2000, but was noted as saying "I'm going to keep making baskets, as long as I can."
Dr. Mary Arnold Twining Baird Collection, Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Dr. Mary Arnold Twining Baird