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Abenaki Sweetgrass Candlestick

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Native people in New England created many woodsplint objects such as baskets, bowls, ornaments, and novelties like this candle holder. This tradition extends from individuals making baskets and woven items for many centuries up to the present day. An Abenaki artisan crafted this candle holder from wood splints and braided sweetgrass. Basketmakers and weavers traditionally train their apprentices over several years, teaching them how to make the splints from ash trees and where to collect sweetgrass. Sweetgrass imparts a light grassy "sweet" scent to the basket. This scent can last for decades. Basketmakers keep the locations of sweetgrass stands private to protect this increasingly rare New England plant. The Abenaki artisan who made this candle holder probably made it in the 19th century when Native-made baskets and novelties were popular as tourist items for sale as souvenirs.


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