The Oberlin Review

Fantasy Coffin Maker Paa Joe Celebrates Dead With Style

Ananya Gupta, Arts and Culture Editor

September 29, 2017

In Ghana, death is not just about grief, pain, and suffering. Paa Joe — or Joseph Ashong — and his son and apprentice Jacob Ashong, are fantasy coffin makers. They bring style, celebration, and positivity into some of the darkest times for a family. On Monday, they visited Oberlin to give a talk, “Paa Joe and the Fantasy Coffins of Ghana.” Since 1950, abebuu adekai, or proverbial coffins, have been deeply ingrained in Ghana’s cultural traditions, and are a great spiritual and economic asset to the community. Fantasy coffins are often personalized according to the occupation, position, or interests of the deceased person. The price Ashong quoted for Paa Joe coffins starts at $4,000, and they can take anywhere ...

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