- Title: Coffins to die for?
- Date: 27th August 2019
- Summary: ACCRA, GHANA (AUGUST 23, 2019) (REUTERS) FANTASY COFFIN MAKER AND ARTIST PAA JOE'S COFFIN MADE INTO A SAIL BOAT EXHIBITED IN SHIKA SHIKA ART FAIR, PART OF THE CHALE WOTE FESTIVAL DETAIL ON THE BOAT COFFIN COFFIN MADE INTO A SEA SHELL COFFIN MADE INTO A FALLEN TREE TRUNK COFFIN MADE INTO A SMALL ARMY TANK SIGN READING (English): SHIKA SHIKA ART FAIR CHALE WOTE STREET ART FESTIVAL PAA JOE IN FRONT OF HIS COFFIN MAKING WORKSHOP SIGN ABOVE READING (English): 'PAA JOE COFFIN WORKS' COFFINS IN THE SHAPE OF BIRDS, FISH AND GECKO IN THE WORKSHOP DETAIL ON COFFIN IN SHAPE OF FISH (SOUNDBITE) (Ga) COFFIN MAKER, PAA JOE, SAYING: "My name is Paa Joe Carpentry Works. I have been making these coffins for a lot of people. I have being doing this for about 30, 40 years now." PAA JOE AND HIS CRAFTSMEN WORKING ON A NEW COFFIN PAA JOE DRAWING LINE ON PIECE OF WOOD PAA JOE DRAWING SHAPE TO PIECE OF WOOD 14, (SOUNDBITE) (Ga) COFFIN MAKER, PAA JOE, SAYING: "Any design I create shows the work the deceased was doing while alive, maybe the person was a pilot, then the coffin for his burial would be an airplane coffin. Once the airplane coffin is displayed at the funeral grounds, everyone would know that the deceased was a pilot, that's why we do it this way, so that everyone at the burial knows what the deceased did with their lives." VARIOUS OF PAA JOE AND TEAM WORKING ON A COFFIN 16 (SOUNDBITE) (Ga) COFFIN MAKER, PAA JOE, SAYING: "So these kinds of things, if you go for a funeral and you see it displayed, you might think it's a joke but it isn't a joke. It isn't a joke at all because it represents your profession and you must leave with the same, hence the reason it will be used to bury you in. So when you go to the funeral you might think it's a joke but the deceased is inside this coffin." DETAIL ON BIRD COFFIN INTERIOR OF AN OPEN COFFIN
- Embargoed: 10th September 2019 12:51
- Keywords: fantasy coffins Paa Joe funerals in Ghana Chale Wote Festival
- Location: ACCRA, GHANA
- City: ACCRA, GHANA
- Country: Ghana
- Topics: Art,Arts / Culture / Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA001ATZT7X3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Seventy-two-year-old Paa Joe started making coffins in 1962 while serving as an apprentice with a master builder of caskets.
Some may label him a carpenter, but Paa Joe has always considered himself an artist who sculpts with wood.
In the late 1970s he decided to specialize in making "fantasy coffins". They are known as 'Abebuu Adekai' in the Ga language - it means 'the receptacle of proverbs'.
But Paa Joe says his caskets also have very practical elements to their design. The shapes he carves represent the professions and careers of the deceased and so could be made into sailing ships for sailors, airplanes for pilots, tanks for soldiers, or fish for fishermen.
His large body of work also includes coca cola bottles, chickens, cars, and even a lion.
Other coffin makers in the Greater Accra region have made coffin-sized replicas of hairdryers for hairdressers, bottles of whisky for bartenders, and even a giant talcum powder bottle called 'Paradis'.
Paa Joe says the coffins are traditionally displayed with the deceased inside them before the burial and stand as a celebration of the departed's life.
Over the years Joe's caskets have been bought by US presidents, exhibited in art galleries around the world and photographed regularly making Paa Joe one of the most renowned coffin makers in the world.
As a result, museums have commissioned him to make specific pieces whilst Ghanaians continue to come to him to bury their loved ones.
Some of Paa Joe's creations were exhibited at the Shika Shika art fair that was part of the two-week long annual Chale Wote street festival being held this month in Accra.
"So these kinds of things, if you go for a funeral and you see it displayed, you might think it's a joke but it isn't a joke. It isn't a joke at all because it represents your profession and you must leave with the same, hence the reason it will be used to bury you in. So when you go to the funeral you might think it's a joke but the deceased is inside this coffin," said Paa Joe.
Ghanaian carpenters started making these stylized caskets in the 1950s, some say as a way to express a belief in the afterlife, while also giving those left behind, a unique way to reflect on the life of the deceased.
(Derrick Ankamah, Yvonne Bell)
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