Have you ever given much thought to how you would like your coffin to be? Or even a loved ones coffin?
In the Greater Accra Region in Ghana, carpenters honour the dead with custom coffins that represent their loved ones dreams, occupations, obsessions, vices and personalities.
Fantasy coffins are only ever seen on the day of the burial when they are buried with the deceased. Shapes, such as a sword or stool coffin, represent regal or priestly insignia with a magical and religious function. Only people with the appropriate status are allowed to be buried in these types of coffins. Various animals, such as lions, cockerels and crabs can represent clan totems. Similarly, only the heads of the families concerned are permitted to be buried in coffins such as these. Many coffin shapes also evoke proverbs, which are interpreted in different ways by the Ga. That is why these coffins are also called proverbial coffins (abebuu adekai) or in the Ga language "okadi adekai".
The Ghanaian people believe that death is not the end and that life continues in the next world in the same way it did on earth. Ancestors are also thought to be much more powerful than the living and able to influence their relatives who are still alive. This is why families do everything they can to ensure that a dead person is sympathetic towards them as early as possible. The social status of the deceased depends primarily on the importance, success and usage of an exclusive coffin during a burial.
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