Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bury Me in a Pineapple or A New Art Form

The Ghana fantasy coffins are the art.  Not only are they used for burials there - soft wood - $700 but as art as well.  Mahogany for the never-to-be occupied, to last in a different climate as in an art museum - $3,000.

"Cheaper than here!" you say.  True enough because American casket makers are unlikely to be able to or want to make specialized jobs like the Ghaniains.  Who, incidentally, have been making them since the mid-40s and as each craftsman ages, his sons and grandsons, who have been apprentices, edge into taking over.

 What makes these coffins special?  It is the uncanny ability of the Ghaniains to duplicate such objects as - a Nokia cell phone, a passenger airplane (for a grandmother who had always wanted to fly, but never got the chance) and make them big enough for the body that will reside within. 

Ghana is said to be a very religious country and ancestors are particularly revered; the dead are believed to have  more power over the living than the living do.  Funerals there are a joint celebration of the deceased as well mourning them.  They are elaborate and thus expensive. Catering, DJ, paid mourners if the crowd is a little scant, etc.  It is customary there to keep the body in a rented space in a mortuary until all of the money necessary for a big send-off can be amassed.  One coffin maker has been hanging on to a customized coffin for two years and so has the potential resident in a mortuary.   

And this is a twist that doesn't make sense to me.  The elaborate casket is ONLY visible on the day of the funeral.  Not before; not after.  Here is a partial list of objects you can buy to be buried in, each customized to your specifications:

A turtle, favorite of lawyers because they move slowly but do get it done.
Fishermen favorites - various fish, crabs, a 7 ft. long lobster
The bon vivants - a pack of Marlboros, a single cigarette, a bottle of a particular brand of rum or beer
Workers - a claw hammer, a wrench
A King James version of the Bible, an Airstream trailer, a Mercedes-Benz
An ear of corn or a chili pepper for a farmer
A Nikon camera with amazing detail.  It looked like the real thing but on steroids.

Pictures would be nice, but I believe it's against the law (intellectual property theft) to lift them from other sites, but to see all of the above - and more - simply Google "Ghana fantasy coffins."   If you're not amazed at their creativity and woodworking skills, I'll be amazed.  They are art and "art" can be found in a lot of unexpected places.  Including at a funeral.

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