Sunday, January 10, 2010

Putting the FUN in FUNeral

The Dismal Trade is one based on a long tradition and a somber Gothic aesthetic, even today. White hearses and caskets took a long time to appear but eventually did, first with children's caskets. However, there are exceptions to the conservatism of Western culture. Best case in point are the amazing and elaborate fantasy caskets made only in Ghana, West Africa. It's like a Mardi-Gras parade. The hand-made sculptures are unique to this small area.  I am sure they may catch on in other places, though. Internet exposure does that to many things.

There are more examples at the National Museum of Funeral History.
(Another interesting site to bookmark.)
And go to these sites to see even more:  Ghanaweb  and  Ghana-net.

But what is it with some people? There are some sites on-line that seem to stretch the boundaries of taste and credibility. At the other end of the spectrum are the questionable casket calendars from Cofanifunebri, a casket maker in Italy. The calendars have evolved from pure titillation to Gothic center-folds. Still, it seems like a very weird selling strategy to me.

[click images for larger versions]

The Post-Mortem Portrait Archive
Today's photo from my postmortem collection is an odd little snapshot from Peru. Here the baby's coffin is surrounded by fresh local flowers and candles set in classic Coca-Cola bottle vases. That and the simplicity of the hand-made coffin may attest to the poverty of the family but equally well to the care and attention paid to honouring their lost baby.

We see what could be a small toy and a clay ocarina by her head and a little bottle at her feet. She has a plaited band across her forehead and is dressed in her best satin Christening gown. It looks like she is clasping white flowers in her hands. There is a saucer of something on the right side at the foot of the coffin. Maize?

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