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A Story of the Confederate Rose

While we were in the Charleston area we visited the historic Charleston City Market.  The Greek Revival style market building was completed in 1841.  But the history of the market goes back to 1788 when Charles Cotesworth “C. C.” Pinckney, the American patriot and delegate to the Constitutional Convention, ceded the land to the City of Charleston to be used as a market in perpetuity.  The buildings stretched from Market Street to the river front and were originally used to market meat, vegtables and fish.  Scraps of meet were thrown out by the butchers to feed the buzzards which came to be known as the “Charleston Eagles”. 

The current Market Hall was built in 1841 for a Masonic Hall to replace the one recently destroyed by fire.  It was in the design of the Temple of the Wingless Victory in Athens, Greece.  Today it houses the Museum run by the Daughters of the Confederacy. 

Inside the market there are several vendors selling woven sweetgrass baskets.  This craft was brought over to Charleston by the Africans and today the only places where these baskets are found is in South Carolina and Western Africa,  the origin of the slaves imported to cultivate rice and cotton.

These crafters also tie palm fronds into a rose shaped flower called today the Confederate Rose.  The story goes that when Southern men left the area for service in the Civil War their wives and sweethearts gave them a rose as a keepsake.  When they returned the rose was presented back to the beloved and was placed by the front door in a pineapple to announce the return of the soldier to all the family’s friends.

The roses are made in just a few minutes and are frequently woven onto palm baskets as ornamention.   They are truly lovely. 

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