Yesterday's Textiles and Tea featured Corey Alston, wonderful fifth generation Gullah basket maker, whose wife and daughter also continue the tradition.
It stems from enslaved West African people, forcibly shipped to the Carolinas, mostly via Charleston, to exploit their skills in growing rice. They found the native sweetgrass similar to the West African grasses they used to weave baskets needed for winnowing the rice harvest, and adopted them, to continue making the baskets. They also use cattails and other grasses, for contrasting color.
They're functional and an artform, as you see. He does a lot of teaching and speaking, to keep the Gullah culture known, and can be found at Charleston Market, weaving his baskets and answering questions, as well as selling. He harvests and dries his own supplies of grasses, which he works, stitching with split palm leaves, to create his artworks. He encourages buyers to handle and use them, not just hang them on the wall!