A Life Well Lived: Fantasy Coffins from Ghana

To the people of Ghana, West Africa, death is not an end, but a transition to the spiritual realm of their ancestors. In fact, ancestors are forever considered members of the family. It is believed that if the deceased is properly honored, such actions secure spiritual favor for the family left on earth. This unique exhibit displays 12 artfully sculpted coffins, each uniquely created to capture the essence of the departed—whether a character trait, an occupation, a symbol of one's standing in the community or what they hope to achieve in the afterlife.

These remarkable coffins vividly depict a KLM airliner, a Mercedes Benz, a fish, a canoe, a leopard, a chicken, a bull, a crab, an eagle, a lobster, a shallot and a Yamaha outboard motor. Brightly colored and intricately designed, these wooden coffins were crafted by Ghanaian sculptor Kane Quaye (also known as Seth Kane Kwe) in his homeland of Accra, Ghana, West Africa.

The National Museum of Funeral History has the largest collection of fantasy coffins outside of Ghana, West Africa.