A History of the Gullah Tradition

A History of the Gullah Tradition

The Gullah tradition is composed of beliefs and methods handed down between Sea Island families, as well as countless stories and songs that have been shared and preserved amongst these families and are still being told today. Whether it be a way to create a fishing net, sew a quilt or assemble sweetgrass baskets, these are a couple of examples of the techniques that have been practiced a certain way for many generations within the Sea Island families.  

What are the customs of the Gullah tradition?

A few illustrations of customs instituted by the Gullah include a drum beat that must be played to notify the town that someone within the community has passed away and when this person passes all mirrors must be turned facing the wall so the deceased human cannot be seen. Another concept that the Gullah believe in very heavily is that all should have protection against witchcraft and troubling spirits who were known to control a human by the words of their will, that being said, they have created a habitual action where one should paper the walls of their home with newsprint to ensure that the spirits would read this first before getting a hold of a person’s last testament. An additional custom held by the Gullah is that they maintain a very strict diet based almost solely on, rice (this being a nod to their origin from the Rice Coast).

Where is the origin of the Gullah people?

The beginning of the Gullah people is associated with the transatlantic slave trade that took place between the 17th and 18th century. One of the early English speaking settlements was entrenched in the state of South Carolina in 1670. The space preferred by settlers was an expanse of coastal field and swampland famous presently for being recognized as the Lowcountry. This plain would become the perfect growth spot for rice, which would soon generate adequate profit for England and be sustained through the force of slavery of the Gullah people.

Are the practices of the Gullah people still exercised today?

Currently, the Gullah people are still existent and still endorse routines practiced by their ancestors. Although, the invasion of modernized traditions, set by the Americans who expanded these ideas throughout the Gullah homeland, the Gullah remain vital people to persist a valuable glance into South Carolina’s history. Today, you can come and take a tour with Charleston Harbor Tours to increase your awareness of the Gullah people. By learning more about this sacred and unique civilization you can assist us in ensuring that the long-lived heritage of the Gullah people will forever remain alive not only here in South Carolina but within the rest of the nation!

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