Fantasy Coffin Workshops

While most people in Ghana celebrate funerals lavishly in the belief that by honoring the deceased in proper fashion will grant favours for the family left behind, it is only the Ga people of Ghana who create extraordinary fantasy coffins for such occasions.

Coffin shop in Teshie, Ghana

Teshie is known around the world as the place where such elegant coffins are crafted. There are a number of shops in this area and you may visit, usually for a small fee. Some workshops do not permit photographs however - unless you are shopping to make a purchase for yourself!

Exotic coffin from Ghana

These fantasy coffins are called Abebuu Adekai, or "boxes of proverbs", by Ga people who were the original people in Ghana to utilize such extravagant coffins. The Ga people are the dominant ethnic group of the Greater Accra region.

The coffin design reflects the personality, career, aspirations or achievements of the deceased. For example, a huge fish for a fisherman, a pen for a writer or teacher, an airplane for a pilot or someone well traveled, etc. This list of items that have been fashioned is quite extensive and includes animals, fruits and vegetables and many items of daily life.

Coffin workshop in Teshie, Ghana

The cost of a such a coffin is high, anywhere from $500 USD for a local coffin to $3,000 USD for a coffin for export. The costs differ according to the type of wood used as well as the difficulty of the design. Light wood such as wawa wawa (white wood) or emien is used for the coffins intended for funerals. Those for export as artworks are made from harder and more expensive wood such as limba or mahogany.

These coffins typically take about 3 months to carve. When there is an unexpected death, some coffins can be finished in two weeks if there is inducement for an expedited job.

Fantasy coffin from Ghana

There are about ten such workshops in the Ga areas of Ghana. Most of these workshops are located in Teshie, a suburb of Accra near La Beach, but there are a few scattered workshops in other areas as well.

Of these workshops, it is the Kane Kwei workshop that is most famous and is regarded as the birthplace of this tradition.

Crafting an exotic coffin in Ghana

Seth Kane Kwei (1922 - 1992) was an established carpenter in Teshie when he began making the first such coffins in the late 1940's. He is considered to be the father of this artistic and spiritual tradition. Followed by his younger brother, and now his younger brother's grandson Eric, this family is a dynasty of such craft. In addition to carrying on this creative artwork, Eric has also introduced furniture and household furnishings into the traditional product line.

Crafting a Ga coffin in Ghana

These unique crafts have been featured at exhibitions in the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Grande Halle in Paris, the New Museum of Modern Art in New York as well as exhibitions in Belgium and Spain. Learn more about Eric Adjetey Anang and the Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop at www.ghanacoffin.com.

See this art up close and in the raw when you tour this or any one of these workshops with your Easy Track guide.

Ga coffin in Teshine-Nungua, Ghana

Across Ghana, while there is certainly mourning over the death of a loved one, a funeral is also a time a celebration of the life of the deceased and an opportunity to send the spirit of the deceased into the afterlife with good tidings. These exotic coffins are one way that the Ga people of Ghana express this goodwill toward the spirit of the deceased.


Many thanks to Eric Adjetey Anang and the Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop (www.ghanacoffin.com) for providing this beautiful set of photos and hosting the many guests that Easy Track Ghana brings to their workshop.


Let us take you on a Tour of a Coffin Workshop.


Back to Top

 facebook icon flickr icon youtube icon skype icon
Easy Track Ghana © Copyright 2014 - All Rights Reserved