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Dying In Style: Ghana’s Awesome Coffins
May 31, 2013
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Photo: Abdelhak Senna/AFP/Getty Images

We're all going to die some day, so why not go out in style.

And if you're going the funeral route as opposed to being cremated, wouldn't it be cool to have a personalized, custom coffin.

Well, in Ghana, that's a specialty of the Ga people. To honour their deceased, they create coffins that celebrate their life.

According to a BBC report, many people there want to bury loved ones in something that looks cool and reflects their trade.

For example, a smoker with a smoking business, had a cigarette-shaped final resting place (fitting, as that's what kills a lot of people) while a fisherman had an elaborate fish coffin (below).

The fish was on display in Moscow in 2011. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/Afp/Getty Images

Of course, there are also ones designed to reflect how people lived. A guy who loved cars had a Benz coffin made for his final ride.

There's been a cola coffin, a beer coffin, a vodka coffin, an "Air Jordan" coffin, and a cellphone coffin. Oh, and of all things, the Air Canada coffin.

Photo: Abdelhak Senna/AFP/Getty Images

Ablade Glover, an artist who works with the carpenters, tells Ghana Web that a coffin acts as a home in the afterlife, so it must be beautiful.

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

While on the right side of the daisies, these coffins have made the rounds in art exhibits worldwide, from Russia to the UK, Australia and the U.S.

Another artist, Paa Joe, has been brought to the UK by filmmaker Ben Wigley to showcase his creations. Paa makes coffins, each one hand-formed.

Wigley tells the BBC, Paa could "spend up to three months building the coffin, and the paint could still be wet... and his hard work, craft and a beautiful object goes straight into the ground."

A Paa Joe shark special, which was displayed in Melbourne.
Photo: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Still, from the dead, Paa and other Ghanian artists earn a living. So, how'd this tradition get started? Well apparently, it's only been around for 50 or 60 years.

According to the BBC, a carpenter named Ata Owoo made spectacular chairs for village elders who'd be carried around on people's shoulders.

Owoo made one chair in the shape of eagle, which impressed a neighbouring chief who wanted a chair shaped like a cocoa pad. As the story goes, when the chief died, the bean became a coffin.

Then, in 1951, the grandmother of one of the artist's apprentices died and since she'd never been in a plane, she wanted to fly off into the sunset, as it were, in a jet coffin. The rest was history.

Here are some more amazing examples, a lion, a phone (last call anyone?), and a camera for a photographer.

Photo: Flickr Emilio Labrador

Photo: Kambou Sia/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: David Levene for the Guardian

Via The Guardian


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