Is a standard coffin too basic for you? Well, there’s one workshop that puts the ‘fun’ in funeral with fantasy caskets shaped like anything you can imagine – even a baguette. Yes, we’re serious.
Paa Joe Coffin Works in the west African city of Accra, Ghana, makes caskets resembling all sorts of things, such as Nike sneakers, Louis Vuitton purses and African wildlife. The company’s 76-year-old founder, Paa Joe, has been designing coffins since 1976. While North American funerals are typically more somber, the caskets reflect the cultural differences surrounding death in West Africa.
“In Ghana, most dead are buried in these coffins to reflect their lives,” according to Joe. He says that the designs are a nod to the passions or professions of the decedents, honouring their lives. “And during the funeral celebration, the coffin is paraded throughout the whole community.”
Joe’s son, Jacob, works for his father, and rather than seeing their work as morbid, he says that the coffins are celebratory. “People celebrate death in Ghana. At a funeral, we have a passion for the person leaving us – there are a lot of people, and a lot of noise,” according to Jacob. “It reminds people that life continues after death, that when someone dies they will go on in the afterlife, so it is important that they go in style.”
You can see Joe’s recent commissions on his Instagram account, which currently has over 8,000 followers. On October 31st, the account shared a picture of a casket shaped like a baguette with yellow patches across the top.
As you might expect, these caskets don’t come cheap. They typically range from $15,000 to $20,000, depending on the details. Generally speaking, the average price of a coffin or a casket is between $1,000 and $4,000.
While the coffins at Paa Joe Coffin Works may seem strange, they represent the cultural differences across the world when it comes to dealing with funerals and death.