Near the west African city of Accra, Ghana, a workshop named Paa Joe Coffin Works crafts fantasy caskets that, instead of typical wooden boxes, resemble Nike sneakers, Louis Vuitton purses and African wildlife, among others.
The companys founder, artist Paa Joe, says his coffins may seem inappropriate to Americans who are more accustomed to somber affairs. But to him, they reflect differing traditions surrounding death in West Africa, he says. In Ghana, most dead are buried in these coffins to reflect their lives, says Joe, who began designing his fantasy coffins in 1976. He adds the designs are a nod to the decedents passions or professions, and are meant to honor the lives they lived. And during the funeral celebration, the coffin is paraded throughout the whole community.
Joes Instagram account, @PaaJoeCoffins, shows some of the workshops most recent commissions. One, a baguette, is in the shape of a full loaf with brown and yellow patches stretching across the top. Another is in the form of an American football. Depending on the level of detail (other commissions have included figures of naked women, Porsches and cameras) these coffins can take anywhere from five to 15 weeks to make ordered while its futu