Why an Airplane Coffin?

This airplane coffin confers the deceased with all the prestige and mystique of travel and proclaims the family’s prominence and wealth. It connects the spiritual journey of death with potent reminders of a life well lived.

Although rectangular coffins are the norm, designer coffins are becoming more common in Ga communities. Coffins in the shapes of vehicles, animals, farm produce, and Bibles celebrate the accomplishments of the deceased.

A few specialized workshops produce these coffins for local and international clienteles. Paa Joe’s workshop in Nungua, Ghana, made this airplane coffin. Pay Joe follows his artistic tuition in detailing designer coffins. He used Christmas wrapping paper in the windows of this KLM 747 jumbo jet.


  • Title: Airplane Coffin
  • Creator: Paa Joe
  • Location: Accra, Ghana, Africa
  • Physical Dimensions: Coffin Length 274 cm Coffin Width 88.5 cm Coffin Height 103.5 cm Lid Length 125 cm Lid Width 51.2 cm Lid Height 14.5 cm Left Wing Length 115 cm Object Width 41 cm Left Wing Height 17 cm Left Wing Length 150 cm Right Wing Width 41.5 cm Right Wing Height 17 cm
  • Type: Coffin
  • Rights: This image was obtained from the Smithsonian Institution. The image or its contents may be protected by international copyright laws. http://www.si.edu/termsofuse
  • External Link: View this object record in the Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center
  • USNM Catalog Number(s): E428675-0
  • Photo Credit: Donald E. Hurlbert, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
  • Field: Ethnology
  • Date Collected: 1997
  • Accession Date: 2002-03-28

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