Black Coffins

The Common Black Coffin

Although not every culture uses a coffin to bury or cremate their dead, coffins are essential parts of most of today’s funeral rites. When they are used, they are most often black. The use of black coffins goes way back in history. Ancient Egyptians began using black resin coffins in the middle of the 18th dynasty. They were especially common among non-royal burials. Even the body of the famous Egyptian boy-king, King Tuthankamun was discovered entombed in a black resin coffin. Today, black coffins are so commonly used that they are the first thing that come to mind when funerals are mentioned. They have become synonymous with death and mourning. The traditional black coffin evokes elegance and yet adds a touch of solemnity to funerals. It is the centre of attention at funerals, so it can be credited with setting the dark mood of a funeral.

Black Coffins in Culture

In contemporary culture, it is this sense of somberness which prompts certain people to adopt black coffins as part of their symbol or moniker. For example, there is a punk/rock band from Houston that calls itself 13 Black Coffins. There is another band from Mauritius that calls itself 6 Black Coffins. Needless to say, both bands play music that one would not exactly describe as merry.

The poem 'The Chimney Sweeper' by William Blake also mentions black coffins. In the poem, black coffins signify death and are used to refer to the darkness of life as a chimney sweeper. The job of a chimney sweeper is dangerous and poor young boys were usually engaged for this chore. Coffins are used to bring out the message of suffering in living such a hazardous life. In one stanza which focuses on the unnamed protagonist’s friend, black coffins are used to bring out his loss of innocence as he lives the life of a chimney sweeper. This is because a coffin is literally a dark and confined space. The plight of a young boy becoming a chimney sweeper is similar to confining him in a coffin.

Controversial Black Coffins

Black coffins have also had their share of controversy. In recent years, people began noticing the existence of half a million black plastic coffins in Atlanta, Georgia. The questions started rolling in. Where could so many coffins come from? It was revealed that the black coffins came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency which is an agent of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The agency’s main responsibility is to coordinate responses to major disasters.

This revelation brought on another question; why are they there? Some began speculating on the possible existence of FEMA death camps. The coffins are there for the purpose of burying prisoners. Yet others believed that the coffins are there in anticipation of mass deaths that will be caused by a massive plague. As speculations and rumors were thrown around, an explanation arose that they were not really coffins, but grave liners or burial vaults. However, the reason for their purpose is still left unexplained.