Lobster (Ghanaian Fantasy Coffin)
This finely carved wooden creature hails from Accra, the capital of Ghana and home of the Ga people. Though it looks at first like a sculpture or commercial marker—advertising, perhaps, a seafood market—it is in fact a made-to-order coffin. The practice of burying loved ones in figurative coffins dates back only about fifty years, when the Sowah family established a carpentry workshop in Accra and launched this unique and fast-growing trend. Families generally request coffins that reflect the trade of their deceased relative; for example, a cobbler might be buried in a giant shoe, a soda distributor in an oversized Coke can. Some designs symbolize interests or prized possessions, such as a car. The lobster coffin, which was likely made to honor a fisherman, illustrates the importance of the sea to Ghanaians as a major source of income and food. For a better view of the exquisitely detailed craftsmanship on the lobster’s head and underside, take the elevator up one floor and look down.