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 When Collected: October 2010 Acquired: Purchased by the Museum 2010 with the aid of the Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey purchase fund.
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]
Publications history, trails & websites: This object was selected for a Museum Top 10 application (mobile app) available on the Android and iOS store from 2013 to 2016. An image of the object was accompanied by the following text: Fantasy Coffin, Ghana. Made at the Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop, Teshie, Accra, Ghana, Africa. Inv: 2010.68.1. ‘Fantasy coffins’ like this are commissioned by the relatives of a deceased family member and are part of a relatively new and vibrant tradition in Ghanian art and culture. The chosen design reflects the trade or ambition of the deceased. For example, a fisherman may have a coffin in the shape of a fish. This coffin could have been made for a shopkeeper, emblazoned with brand names and its lid resembling the corrugated tin roof found on many shops and dwellings. It was made by the Kane Kwei carpentry workshop in the town of Teshie, Accra and was commissioned specially for the Museum in 2010. Kane Kwei began to make bespoke coffins – abebuu adekai (“boxes with proverbs”) – in the 1950s. Today his grandson continues the business, creating new designs and introducing furniture that utilizes similar materials and techniques. Demand for fantasy coffins has grown to such an extent that there are now numerous carpentry workshops in the Accra region manufacturing them, in particular for the international art market. [HA 07/01/2016]
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]
Illustrated in colour on page 145 of The Pitt Rivers Museum: A World Within, by Michael O’Hanlon (London: Scala, 2014). Caption (same page) reads: ‘110 Wooden coffin in the form of a small shop; among the Ga, the form a coffin takes may reflect the occupation or ambition of the departed. Commissioned from Kane Kwei workshop in Ghana, 2010 Length 1820 mm Purchased with the aid of the Chadwyck-Healey Fund, and with the practical assistance of Professors Malcolm McLeod and Kodzo Gavua 2010.68.1’ [MJD (Verve) 8/3/2016]