2010.68.1 .1 2010.68.1 .2

Wooden coffin [.1] painted on all sides with product advertisements with lid [.2] painted to resemble corrugated metal. [FC 05/11/2010]

Place details: AFRICA. Ghana. Accra Teshie Kane Kwei coffin workshop. Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Pigment / Wood Plant / Synthetic Textile / ?. Processes: Painted / Stitched / Carpentered / ?. Dimensions: Max L [.1] = 1820 mm Max Depth [.1] = 381 mm Max [.1] W = 740 mm Max L [.2] = 1950 mm Max W [.2] = 815 mm Max D [.2] = 370 mm Field Collector: Unknown When Collected: October 2010 PRM Source: Kane Kwei coffin workshop Acquired: Purchased by the Museum 2010 with the aid of the Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey purchase fund. PRM Image: Collections Digital Reference Photo 02/11/2010; Museum digital photo publication quality 2011

KEYWORD: Coffin Box / CLASS: Death / Trade / ?.

Object description: Wooden coffin [.1] painted on all sides with product advertisements with lid [.2], made to look like a shop front. The coffin [.1] has been painted on all four sides with a number of advertisements for products one can purchase from a shop. One one end of the coffin is a painted avert for "Quaker" quick cooking [porridge oats?] and on the other end an advert for "Omo". One long side of the coffin has adverts for "Klin", "Blue Band", Maxam toothpaste", "Nestle Milo energy drink" and on the other side "Titus", "Pepsodent", "Ovaltine" and "Nestle Milo energy drink". All of the adverts have been painted in brightly coloured glossy paints. The inside of the coffin is padded and lined with a white high sheen synthetic textile. There are four metal feet attached, one in each corner, on the bottom of the coffin. The lid of the coffin [.2] is painted in the same manor as the bottom half of the coffin. The lid is painted in green with recesses as shop windows with advertisements for different products painted inside each window including "Obaapa sardines", "Omo", tomato paste and "Key" soap. The top of the coffin lid has been carpentered and painted silver to resemble a corrugated metal roof. [FC 05/11/2010]

Day book entry - AFRICA, GHANA. Coffin in the form of a shop commissioned for an exhibition on 'Trade' to be held by the Pitt Rivers Museum in July 2011. [FC 05/11/2010]

Related Documents File - An article from the journal "African Arts" Volume 43, Number 3. "Alternate Histories of the Abebuu Adekai" by Roberta Bonetti, summer 2010. [FC 05/11/2010]

Related Documents File - Background to the acquisition of the 'trade store' coffin: "While thinking about the background to an exhibition planned on the topic of trade, the Museum's director came across a website which showed a photograph of one of the Ga 'fantasy coffins' from Ghana in the form of a small shop or trade store. The Museum possessed none of the 'fantasy coffins' whose background is given in the literature such as Thierry Secretan's book Going into the Darkness (Thames and Hudson, 1995) and, most recently, 'Alternative histories of the Abedu Adekai' (Africa Arts, Autumn 2010). A decision was made to commission such a coffin in the form of a local shop or store. This would speak doubly to the topic of trade, both directly through modelling such a store, and indirectly in that the manufacture of such coffins for museums and galleries has become part of the international trade market..." [FC 08/11/2010]

Display history: Displayed in the exhibition 'Made for Trade' at the Pitt Rivers Museum from the 18th July 2011 - 27th January 2013. Displayed in a large showcase on the theme of 'Traders and Trading Places'. Displayed with the caption: "Shop coffin, Kane Kwei Coffin Workshop, Teshie, Accra, Ghana, Africa. Known world wide as 'fantasy coffins', these coffin-sarcophagi are used for funerals primarily by the Ga people who live in Accra, Southern Ghana. The coffins are made to reflect the ambition of the trade of the deceased. This coffin was commissioned by the museum to be made in the form of a local store, speaking doubly to the topic of trade, both directly through modelling such a store and indirectly in that the manufacture of such coffins for museums and galleries have become part of the international trade market. Purchased from the Kane Kwei Coffin workshop by the Museum in 2010. 2010.68.1" [FC 22/06/2011]

Publications history, trails & websites: Illustrated in colour on page 22-23 of 'Made for Trade' by Julia Nicholson and Faye Belsey, the booklet produced to accompany the temporary exhibition with the same title 'Made for Trade' held at the Pitt Rivers Museum from the 18th July 2011 to 27 January 2013. Illustrated with the caption "Coffin for a shop-keeper made at Kane Kwei Coffin workshop in Teshie, Accra, Ghana; 2010.68.1 The business is run by Eric Adjetey Anang and his father Ernest Anang Kwei and employs six apprentice carpenters and a painter." [FB 16/01/2013]

An image of this object was published as a PRM postcard (number 218) in association with the Made for Trade exhibition. Caption reads: 'Coffin made at the Kane Kwei carpentry workshop in Accra, Ghana. The Kane Kwei workshop specialises in making coffins designed according to the occupation or aspirations of the deceased. This example is a copy of one made for a shop owner, with a range of store goods hand painted on the outside. It was commissioned by the Museum in 2010.' (Copy of postcard in RDF.) [JC 8 8 2011]

Research notes: Extract from the article Alternate Histories of the Abebuu Adekai" by Roberta Bonetti, printed in the summer edition of the "African Arts" Volume 43, Number 3: " Abebuu adekai - literally, "receptacles of proverbs", known worldwide as fantasy coffins - constitute a widespread lietmotif in African art. these coffin-sarcophagi are used for funerals primarily by the Ga people, who live in Accra in Southern Ghana, although their use has spread to Ewe, Asante, Adangbe, and Fanti as well. Manufactured in Teshie and Nungua (Accra), with some new workshops emerging in Togo, they began to be used on a large scale in the early 1960's, soon after Ghana became independent. Fantasy coffins rapidly achieved popularity abroad after they began to be presented as ready-made artworks at international exhibitions and caught the interest of the mass media..."[FC 05/11/2010]

Other information: The coffin features in a film on fantasy coffins made by Zoe Elliott-Shircore. A trailer of Zoe's film can be seen at http:??vimeo.com?15361682. [FC 08/11/2010]

A selling exhibition at the Jack Bell Gallery in London running from the 24th November 2010 - 15th January 2011 "Paa Joe: Taking it with you" exhibited four coffins sculpted by the Ghanaian artist Paa Joe. "The coffins exhibited were all iconic symbols of local life. The golden African eagle, fish, Air Ghana jet, and Cocoa pod are testament to the vibrancy of West African culture and the ability and imagination of local artists. The coffins blur the line between art and craft. Reflecting the ambition of the trade of the person for whom they were made they are not dead things but indeed a manifestation of and indeed an affirmation of life." [FC 07/12/2010]

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