THESE beautifully crafted sculptures may look like works of art but they have been hand built by one of the worlds greatest carpenters - as coffins. The colourful and intricate caskets are worth thousands of pounds and come in various shapes and sizes. They have been constructed by master coffin carver Paa Joe, 65, who has been making coffins for more than 50 years. His range includes funeral palls shaped like cars, jets, fish, eagles and cocoa pods. They are made in Ghana, where a tradition of elaborate coffins is especially strong among the south-eastern Ga people. They value coffins as a status symbol and a spiritual way of remembering the deceaseds job or personality. Paa Joe designed one casket in the shape of a plane for a 91-year-old grandmother who often dreamed of flying, even though she had never boarded an aircraft. Families commission the coffins to represent the achievements or personality of the dead and designs include Bibles and cameras. Collectors buy them for up to 6,500. Sometimes the deceased will have prepared a design brief during their lifetime. Coffins are made of wood and then painted. A coffin in the form of an African eagle with painted gold feather markings is generally made for chiefs and is lined with silk and red textiles. The deceaseds body is washed, dressed, adorned and laid out with the coffin open during the wake. The coffin is then closed and carried to the burial ground. Paa is currently showing some of his work at the Jack Bell Gallery, in London, until January 15. Jack Bell said: 'The works are all iconic symbols of local life. The golden African eagle, fish, Air Ghana jet and Cocoa pod are testament to the vibrancy of West African culture. 'These works blur the line between art and craft. They are not dead things but are instead a manifestation and affirmation of life. It is believed the coffin tradition originated in Teshi, a fishing community on the outskirts of Ghanas capital, Accra, where a fisherman would be buried in a fish coffin, inspired by the hulls of boats. Daily Mail