Meet your maker: The man behind fantasy coffins

2015-04-12 18:29

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Ghanian craftsman Paa Joe and his lion coffin

UK film maker Benjamin Wigley travelled to Ghana in 2010 to make a short film about the country’s greatest living fantasy-coffin maker, Paa Joe.

But he soon realised he needed a full feature film to do the craftsman’s incredible work justice.

Paa Joe was at the forefront of the fantasy-coffin movement that began in Ghana in the 1950s.

Also called figurative coffins, “the movement began?...?when two carpenters made their grandmother an aeroplane-shaped coffin to fulfil her lifelong wish to fly”, says the documentary’s website.

Each coffin is carefully crafted by talented woodworkers and designs include everything from Coke bottles to cars, which are chosen to represent the person the coffin will hold.

Wigley’s film, Paa Joe & The Lion, is shot in Ghana and the UK, and records a unique aspect of African culture. It also shows the great difficulties Paa Joe is going through.

Wigley says: “Here was Paa Joe, the greatest living Ghanaian coffin maker, a true artist and a lion himself, who had fallen on desperately hard times. He was unexpectedly forced to move from his workshop in Ghana’s busy capital, Accra, and his business plummeted.”

The Paa Joe & The Lion documentary is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to finish filming.

You can find out more about the documentary and make a contribution at

Paa Joe's 2011 Nikon camera coffin

Paa Joe's sneaker coffin is currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum in New York

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