Check out Paa Joe's other incredible works.
Funerals are usually dull and sad affairs. The last thing you would think about during a funeral is how to make it fun - and yet, here they are. Near the west African city of Accra, Ghana, a workshop named Paa Joe Coffin Works crafts “fantasy” caskets, in order to put the fun back in funerals.
They build caskets but instead of making them look like typical boxes, they look like Nike sneakers, Louis Vuitton purses, and African wildlife, to name a few, reported New York Post.
While North American funerals usually have a somber tone to them, the caskets in South Africa reflect, truly, how different cultures view the event. The company's founder, 76-year-old Paa Joe, who has been in the coffin designing business since 1976, said, "In Ghana, most dead are buried in these coffins to reflect their lives." He said that his designs are usually a nod to the passion, love, or profession of the deceased. He added, "And during the funeral celebration, the coffin is paraded throughout the whole community.”
His son Jacob, who also works in the family business, says he doesn't see his work as a morbid creation. Jacob said, "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. 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.”
Joe's Instagram account has over 11k followers and it showcases some of his works. One of the coffins was shaped like a baguette - a full loaf with brown and yellow patches stretching across the top. The other one is in the shape of an American football. While we know that these caskets end up 6ft under the ground, sometimes they are also used for artistic display.
Till now, they have been showcased in exhibitions in Accra, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. As you might have guessed, these caskets don't come cheap. Depending on how intricately they are designed, these coffins can take anywhere from five to 15 weeks to make and cost between $15,000-$20,000.
Joe was an apprentice under his uncle, Seth Kane Kwei, who was in the family’s second generation of making fantasy coffins. He said he spent more than a decade learning the in and out of business. Usually, coffins are priced between $1000-$2000. While one might absolutely find Paa Joe Coffin Works absurd to a level, they do represent the cultural differences across the world when it comes to dealing with funerals and death
Papa Joe Coffin works is not the only person from Ghana who designs fantasy coffins. A man named Eric Anang, who appeared in a 2013 "CBS Sunday Morning” segment, is also one. In the segment, he showcased a green-colored tilapia casket for a fisherman and a bright yellow cocoa pod for a farmer. The designer said it is a bittersweet feeling to see his creation being lowered into the ground, where it cannot be seen by anyone. He said, "I don’t really feel comfortable when I see them going under the ground."