Indiana University Indiana University IU

Browse the collection

Coffin in the Form of a Fish

Artist Workshop of Ernest Anang Kwei (Ga)
Title Coffin in the Form of a Fish
Date 2001
Medium Wood, paint, cloth, and and metal
Dimensions Overall (including base): 43 x 115 1/2 x 20 1/8 in. (109.2 x 293.4 x 51.1 cm)
Credit Line Gift of William and Gayle Cook in honor of Alvin and Phyllis Rutner, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 2001.17

Share this artwork!

About this Work

In coastal Ghana, one last way for family members to honor a deceased relative is by burial in a so-called “designer” or fantasy coffin. Bold, colorful, and inventive, these coffins relate to the deceased’s profession, status, or accomplishments and take the form of objects ranging from cars (Mercedes Benz is a favorite) to cocoa pods (one of the region’s important cash crops). Along the coast, many people’s occupations are sea-related, so it is not surprising to find coffins in the form of boats, outboard motors, fishing nets, lobsters, crabs, and fish of various forms and colors.

This bright pink fish coffin was commissioned in March 2001. Completed in three weeks, the fish is full-size; that is, it is the length of a coffin that would actually be used for burial. The interior is upholstered with gathered white satin. The blue supports anchored to the bottom of the fish are also part of a casket intended for use: they are the means by which a coffin containing the deceased is carried by mourners parading through the streets, past places frequented by the deceased, before burial.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

Viewing Information
This artwork is currently on view.


Request this Image
The Eskenazi Museum of Art provides images of its collection, free of charge, upon request. This artwork is under copyright protection. You can request the image and it will be emailed to you when the request is complete.

Cite this Page
"Coffin in the Form of a Fish | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.