Yesterday I was taking pictures in a cemetery and I got into a conversation about coffins. And suddenly, I remembered: In 2014 I met an artist in Ghana who builds “fantasy coffins” that look like cell phones and minibus taxis and crabs and three-headed dogs. And I NEVER BLOGGED ABOUT IT.

Fantasy coffin-maker with cell phone coffin
The coffin artist and his Samsung coffin. Sadly, I’ve lost my notes about the visit and I don’t remember his name. But I’m grateful to him for allowing me to take photos in his shop.

How is it possible that I visited a FANTASY COFFIN SHOP nearly three years ago and never blogged about it? I suppose I was busy back then, and I wasn’t happy with the photos I took of the coffins. Nonetheless, this is inexcusable.

Full-Length ell phone coffin
A full-body shot of the Samsung coffin.

The quick back-story: I was in Ghana visiting my friend Michelle, who lived there at the time. We were on the road, headed back to Accra from the Cape Coast, when we spotted Serious Wood Works. I asked our driver to pull over.

Serious Wood WorksA crappy cell phone photo of Serious Wood Works.

Fantasy coffins have been a thing in Ghana for the last few decades. The outlandish coffins evolved through the traditions of the Ga people of southern Ghana, who believe in sending their dead into the afterlife in style, in a coffin reflecting the person’s life on earth. People commission the artists to design and build their coffins before they die.

These coffins are not just works of art; they are actual coffins that are actually used to bury people in the actual ground. (Read more about fantasy coffins on Wikipedia and in this great article in the Guardian.)

I had heard about the coffin artists before I came to Ghana but didn’t have time to seek one out. So when we accidentally happened upon this one by the side of the road, I could barely contain my excitement.

Snake coffinInside the coffin workshop. There’s some kind of serpent, the phone, a three-headed dog, a crab, some Ghanian money, and a couple of house-coffins. The weird things hanging from the ceiling are funeral wreaths.

Three-headed animal coffinA better look at the three-headed dog. A spotted three-headed dog with horns.

Minibus taxi coffinMy favorite shot of the visit — a taxi in progress. I think the artist told me that the person who ordered it owns a taxi company.

At long last, I’ve got this coffin-monkey off my back. I saw a cell phone coffin in Ghana and it was amazing.

Read the rest of my Ghana posts here. I’ve still got a few untold stories from this trip — maybe I’ll tell another one next year.

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