Sunday, January 20, 2008

death in ghana

Have any idea what these are...?

They're coffins in Ghana. When I was in college, a fellow art history major was writing his senior thesis on this tradition of elaborate coffins in Ghana and I was completely fascinated. But eight years later, I remembered nothing about them, except they looked amazing. And the interweb has little more, except for lots of pictures. It does turn out, however, that the largest collection of these coffins outside Ghana is at the National Museum of Funeral History ( A pretty good find.
As you might imagine, the coffins refer to aspects of the deceased's personality or status. They are elaborate (costing as much as a year's salary) because death, in Ghana, is not an end, but a passage to a new phase. And wouldn't YOU want to transition in one of these?


Anonymous said...

I like this phrase:
"life is a march toward the grave."
There is something brave yet helpless about this description.

Also, are these coffins actually placed in the ground and or cremated? Talk about the ephemerality of art.

evandebacle said...

As far I can tell they are buried, despite the enormous expense and work.