link to Florida Folklife exhibitFlorida Folklife

Historical Museum of Southern Florida

Domestic and Decorative Traditions

Rosa Ena Torruella with Puerto Rican bobbin lace (Jacksonville)
Mieko Kubota with Japanese ikebana (Miami)
Florencia Diaz with Guatemalan textiles (Miccosukee Indian Village, Miami-Dade Co.)

The human body and the home inspire the creation of an immense array of objects that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Handmade clothing in Florida ranges from brilliantly colored Seminole patchwork skirts to Anglo-American palmetto stem hats and complexly patterned Ghanaian garments that carry proverbial messages. In homes around the state, there are African American, Anglo-American and Hawaiian quilts; and intricately embroidered tablecloths and framed wall pieces in Norwegian, Hungarian, Palestinian and other traditions. Baskets are made from white oak splints, sweetgrass and pine needles. Some domestic items that were once utilitarian are now primarily decorative. Baskets, for example, are no longer a common form of container but are popular items of beauty both in the communities that produce them and among collectors of handmade objects.

Other types of items found in homes and yards have traditionally had a decorative purpose. Domestic environments provide spaces in which individuals can express their aesthetic visions and talents. Japanese homes may be graced with folded paper designs (origami), balls laced with colored threads (temari) and elaborate flower arrangements (ikebana). Animals and symbols of community life are carved in wood in various cultural traditions. In their spare time, metal workers sometimes fabricate sculptures that represent their unique views of the world. Decorative items vary in the degree to which they are based on artistic models shared by a community. All, however, are intended to be forms of expression within the interpersonal relationships of community life.

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Florida Folklife Traditions Start
Maritime, Marsh and Ranching Domestic and Decorative
Ritual and Festive Musical
Historical Museum of Southern Florida

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