A recent trend in the funeral planning industry is to bypass traditional caskets in hardwood and stainless steel to opt for something more personalized. From custom-made themed caskets and do-it-yourself casket kits to simple shrouds that make the most out of a green funeral, it seems like consumers today have more options than ever before.
And while it might seem like these additional options are strictly an American phenomenon, the truth is actually quite the reverse. In a recent magazine article at Don’t Panic, one journalist shows that in terms of quirky coffins, Ghana has got almost the entire world beat.
Ghanaian Fantasy Coffins
In Ghana, West Africa, one tribe has taken burial to the next level with fantasy coffins. So named because they are colorful, whimsical, and definitely crafted from the world of fantasy, these caskets are similar to traditional ones in terms of the materials and craftsmanship. Hardwoods are used for the exterior, and the insides are lined with satin and other plush options. It’s the design that really makes the difference.
From Coca-Cola bottles and cars to fish and other animals, there seems to be no limit to what the craftsmen in Ghana can do. (And because they’re in a foreign country, copyright issues don’t apply the same way they would in the United States.) Bright and cheerful and usually related to the deceased’s preferences in life, these caskets provide an interesting way to say goodbye.
Why Choose a Whimsical Casket?
In Ghana, the caskets represent a way to bury a loved one in a way that is showy, flashy, and fitting for the celebration of a life well lived. Ablade Glover, one of the artists who works with the carpenters, goes on to say that the “coffins are essentially a home for loved ones in the next life, so they should be made to be as beautiful as possible.”
But they’re not for everyone. Conservative religious groups tend to frown on the almost playful nature of the caskets, and some people might take offense at this type of convention-defying approach to death.
Additional considerations include the fact that these caskets aren’t cheap or easy to make. According to reports, some burials in Ghana are being stalled and bodies stored as families wait up to three weeks for their fantasy coffin to be completed.
Custom Caskets in the United States
Although importing a handcrafted fantasy casket from Ghana probably isn’t something most people intend to do, you can opt for similar caskets in the United States. More and more custom design casket makers provide an online platform for purchasing a casket in the theme of your choosing, and you can even make your own at home and paint it however you want.