by Richard L. Thornton, Architect & City Planner
The Southern Pine Needle basket above was made by my grandmother Mahala (Ruby) in the early 1920s. She gave it to me as a high school graduation present. All of her other remaining baskets disappeared from her house as we were attending her funeral. The two brooms were made by my Grandfather Obie in the 1950s.
Southern Longleaf Pine needles could grow to over 20 inches long. They were more resistant to damp climates than split wood baskets and easier to weave that split cane baskets. Of course, the supply of Longleaf Pine needles was almost infinite prior to the arrival of many white settlers in the 1800s, so there was a natural incentive to develop the artistry and techniques required to make beautiful, durable baskets from an abundant material. Nevertheless, the art of making pine needle baskets is little known outside the Lower Southeast.
The forms of the Longleaf Pine Needle baskets, platters and bottles apparently emulated the traditional forms of Creek pottery. At least all that I have seen seem to derive from ceramic traditions. Here are some examples.