Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Coffins From Ghana

A cigarette-shaped coffin is carried in a funeral procession in the Ghanaian capital, Accra. Relatives wanted to honor the dead man's love of smoking and his cigarette business.

A coffin designed for a seamstress is decorated with a sewing machine. It can take up to a month to make the coffins, which are kept at the carpenter's until the funeral day. It's considered bad luck to bring the coffins home ahead of time.

Pineapple Coffin: Sweet death?

Benz Coffin: Affordable when dead: For about 30 years Ghana has earned a special reputation for the world's most colorful and imaginative coffins for their dead.

"Air Jordan" Coffin: MJ, do you want one of these?

Shoe Coffin: Prizes for an imaginative coffin vary between five and six million Cedis (about 500 to 600 US dollars).

Fish Coffin: Young carpenters carry a coffin shaped in the form of a fish over the main road in Teshie.

Beer Coffin:It's not unusual that fatalities are kept in the fridge of the morgue for almost three weeks until the carpenters have finished their shaped coffins to show mourners the profession or the individuality of the casual.

Coca Cola Coffin: Young carpenters open a coffin shaped in the form of a Coca Cola bottle in Teshie, a suburb of Accra January 22, 2004.

For the Ga tribe in coastal Ghana, funerals are a time of mourning, but also of celebration. The Ga people believe that when their loved ones die, they move on into another life and the Ga make sure they do so in style. They honor their dead with brightly colored coffins that celebrate the way they lived.

The coffins are designed to represent an aspect of the dead person's life. Such as a car if they were a driver, a fish if their livelihood was the sea or a sewing machine for a seamstress. They might also symbolize a vice such as a bottle of beer or a cigarette.

Ablade Glover, an artist who works with the carpenters, says the coffin acts as a home in the afterlife, so it must be beautiful. But he laments that after putting so much time into creating the coffin, it gets hidden underground.

"By the end of the day, they are going to bury this thing, which has taken so much time, so much energy…" he says.

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