Creek Indian Longleaf Pine Needle Baskets

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.

During the five years that my mother stayed at home with me, after I was born, she dabbled in ceramics and pine needle basket weaving. She primarily made miniature baskets for gifts to friend and family. There were some huge Southern Longleaf Pine trees in the front yard of our home in Waycross, GA so she had an unlimited supply of raw material. She taught me how to weave the three strands of a pine needle, but I was never interested in going beyond that.
This was our home in Waycross. Most of the giant pines are now gone and have been replaced by hardwoods.

6 Comments

  1. Hi Richard, I particularly love Native American pottery and their basket weaving Thank you for sharing your mother’s work which is delightful. Did your father make the plane I see next to your mothers basket , if so was he also a craftsman? Four years ago a friend I made through blogging who came from Carolina visited us here in Crete and brought some interesting pieces including a Turquoise Nugget from the Kingsmere Mine, a leather pouch She was involved with some organization to do with Native Americans which is how I got to know her online. I have many photo’s in my study but do not have one of the Creek tribe. Enjoyed reading your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found that plane in a closet of my former Colonial Era farmhouse in Virginia. On one end is engraved, EW Carpenter Lancaster, Pennsylvania 1778.

      The original owner of the house was Colonel John Tipton of the Virginia Continental Line, so must have purchased it while being stationed near Philadelphia during the American Revolution.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Actually I noticed it after I had sent the reply which is when I looked at the photo again. In fact I thought the whole room was very tasteful. By the way if you have a photo of your Creek tribe Would you be so kind as attach it to an email and send to me I would be most grateful.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t have a good one of the tribe, because we are not scattered all over the US. I can send you a family reunion photo from the early 1960s. I need you email address, however. If you have my email address, I can just send the photo in a reply. That way, there is no danger of a scammer picking up your email address.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.