New book explores Gullah culture

in Arts by

Halftide Publishing in Okatie announces the publication of a new book, “The Gullahs of South Carolina” by Pearce W. Hammond. The book tells an urgent and important story about the Gullah people and their vanishing way of life and culture. Many Americans are unaware that along the South Carolina coast lies a culture more strongly rooted in African ways than any other in America.

It was a time when most sea islanders were black and understood the importance of tucking Spanish moss into a shoe, painting window trim blue, and running like mad from a coachwhip snake. The rivers and ocean were theirs for fishing; the salt marshes theirs for shrimping, crabbing and oystering; and the woods theirs for hunting. They sang spirituals and spoke their native tongue without shame. They wove baskets without worrying that the sweet grass might vanish from the swamps someday. They delivered their own babies, made medicine of herbs, and knitted their own fishing nets. They danced and clapped when they worshiped, told stories, and adorned graves with life’s necessities and pleasures so the departed could pass easily and amiably between material and spiritual worlds. In quiet self-sufficiency, the Gullahs lived off the water and the land and their unique culture thrived in isolation for centuries on the remote sea islands until the outside world discovered the islands and started paying millions to own them and new ways were forcing out the old.

“The Gullahs of South Carolina” gives a pictorial journey through the sea islands and Lowcountry of South Carolina with artwork by the author; it also conveys the great love of the Gullah people for the land and the water in peaceful times gone by. The images and text in each section provides historical information and interesting facts about the Gullah people, their way of life, and their culture.

The book also creates public awareness of the Gullah language, lifestyle and culture so that Gullah children and future generations will know and recognize the significant contributions the Gullah people have made to South Carolina and to America’s heritage.

“The Gullahs of South Carolina” is available from the author’s website: http://www.pearcehammond.com and from Amazon.com and from The Filling Station Art Gallery in Bluffton.