At the National Museum of Funeral History there is an exhibition of twelve coffins made by a sculptor from Ghana. From the site:
There is a saying in Ghanaian culture that "life is a march toward the grave." Although one of these sculpted coffins may cost an average year's salary in Ghana, families and communities often band together to make such a purchase possible. This is believed to protect the well-being of the deceased in the after-world.In Collapse, Jared Diamond presents the argument that societies choose to fail or succeed. On Easter Island, for example, the islanders
In the light of that, I can't help being taken aback, astounded, and stupefied by the breathtakingly moronic, absurd, and asinine action of the families of the deceased who share the colossal, mammoth, and gargantuan cost of having a coffin made to order. All that based on the vacuous belief that a coffin in the shape of a KLM airliner will protect them in the afterlife. Seems to me some societies deserve to fail.
Personally I like one Nepalese burial custom where the family of the deceased throw the remains to the vultures. Sparing my offspring that experience, I should like to be buried in a cardboard box.