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Developments of variety coffin culture in Russia

Developments of variety coffin culture in Russia

Under the Soviets, they were plain wooden boxes upholstered in red satin. Today they come in different shapes and sizes and cater to a variety of tastes.

Many are made of pine or mahogany hardwood, have a silk or satin lining, and some are encrusted with Swarowski crystals. Russian consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their tastes -- and coffins are no exception.

"We are acquiring traditions," said Yury Alampikov, general director of Saint Petersburg-based Akropol Servis, one of Russia's top coffin manufacturers.

"Under the Soviet Union we did not have them. Nor did we have much of a choice."
Twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union, one of the more important achievements of capitalism in Russia, industry experts say, is that more and more people can afford not only a good life but also a good death, or at least a decent burial.

"Russians are slowly moving away from red rags," said Irina Mordvina, director of a coffin manufacturer from the small Siberian town of Iskitim, referring to the Soviet-era traditional upholstery. "They want something decent."

Manufacturers of coffins and furnishings say they don't advertise their products for ethical reasons and an annual show -- tucked away in the far corner of Moscow's famed All-Russian Exhibition Centre late last month -- was a rare opportunity for them to win publicity.

But even without much advertising they admit that business is good.

With rampant alcoholism and high death rates from traffic accidents, life expectancy is startlingly low in Russia, and authorities' attempts to contain a population decline so far have not proved successful.

"The Russian market is very interesting," enthused Bartolomeo Sandrone of Italian-based Spaf which makes hand-finished brass handles, among other products.

"The market is growing," he said at the Nekropol-2011 show, a row of dark-toned polished coffins made of premium hardwood sitting nearby.

Updated : 2021-07-29 08:54 GMT+08:00