Since time immemorial, humans have crafted caskets or coffins. Design, workmanship and materials differ widely, however all caskets and coffins serve a universal purpose, acting as a vessel or container that allows a cherished loved one to be preserved, honored and celebrated as they pass from this world into the next.
First attested in English 1380, the word coffin derives from the Greek word "Kophinos", which means "basket". Use of the word "casket" began as a euphemism introduced by the undertaker's trade in America; a "casket" was originally a box for jewelry. North Americans draw a distinction between "coffins" and "caskets", using coffin to refer to a tapered hexagonal or anthropoidal box used for a burial, and casket to refer to a rectangular burial box with a split lid used for viewing.
Dignitaries and celebrities from ancient to modern times such as King Tutankhamun, Alexander the Great, Buddha, Cyrus the Great and Admiral Horatio Nelson, have been buried in golden coffins or caskets.
Caskets made entirely of gold are very rare. When they are found, they are usually priceless artifacts of historical significance. In the modern day, some people choose to buy caskets with decorative golden inlays. Golden caskets often have a religious significance. Many relics from Buddhism and Christianity are kept in elaborate golden caskets.
The ancient Egyptians used golden coffins to entomb Pharaohs and other important figures. Golden coffins were used to entomb the mummies as well as many items that the person used in day-to-day life. These golden coffins are priceless archeological finds that are studied thoroughly and kept in museums around the world. Scientists still use these priceless artifacts to learn about ancient Egyptian society.
The discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1929 was one of the defining moments of modern archeology. The golden series of the first two anthropoid coffins, shaped as a human, were made of gilded wood - gilding was used by the ancient Egyptians to achieve a wonderful golden appearance. The final coffin was made of pure, solid gold which housed the mummy of King Tut and his fabulous golden mask. The solid gold coffin of King Tut measures 6 feet 1 inches in length and weighs 243lbs. The raw weight of the gold alone is worth about 2 million dollars.
Siddhartha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from ancient India who founded Buddhism and is regarded as the Supreme Buddha of our age. "Buddha" means "awakened one" or "the enlightened one." The thirty-three relics of Gautama Buddha are stored in golden caskets around the world. These relics range from items that Buddha used to some of his teeth and his collarbone. Most of the Buddha relics are housed in museums and are rarely displayed to the public.
Alexander the Great, arguably the finest general in military history, died in Babylon in 323 B.C. After his death his body was placed in a gold casket and preserved in honey for the long trip home. Eventually the casket ended up in a tomb in Alexandria, the city Alexander himself founded, where it was visited by Julius Caesar.
Admiral Horatio Nelson, killed at the famous Battle of Trafalgar, was laid to rest in a granite and gold sarcophagus under the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
Some modern day caskets have golden decorations. People may choose to have a golden cross or other religious symbols on the casket. These decorations are often expensive, but they can be extremely beautiful and detailed, adding luxury to the casket.
Golden caskets or coffins are rare works of art that contain some of the world's great treasures. Modern day caskets with gold inlays or decoration can help people say goodbye to their loved one with style and dignity.
The Golden Casket is committed to reviving the ancient art of creating beautiful caskets in order to celebrate and honor exceptional lives, and it is our belief in originality, refinement and quality of craftsmanship that sets us apart.
© 2014 The golden casket. Website created by Julia Balfour.