In some regions of Ghana, it is typical for the shape and style of a coffin to make a personal statement by reflecting the profession, interests, or characteristics of the deceased. The mother of many children, for example, might have a coffin in the shape of a hen with chicks. In this case it is a Nike sneaker, a symbol of status and modernity in the late 20th century. As people make the transition from one world to the unknown next, an object (a coffin) representing another object (in this case, a shoe) provides comforting familiarity.
Coffin in the Form of a Sneaker (1990) by Paa Joe was Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum.
I’m a huge fan of The Amazing Race, because I enjoy watching teams of two people have mental/emotional breakdowns while racing for one million dollars on almost no sleep through countries where they don’t speak the language and can’t stomach the food. International travel! In the current season, you might recall that while the teams were in Ghana, they faced a challenge that involved carrying an elaborately hand-carved coffin through the city streets to a specific destination. The Pink Fish-shaped Coffin above is a perfect example of how clever and fancy the craftsmanship on these coffins can get. Sort of takes the phrase “sleep with the fishes” to a whole new level!