A coffin is a funerary box used for viewing or keeping a corpse, either for burial or cremation. The word took two different paths, cofin in Old French originally meaning basket, became coffin in English, a distinction is often made between coffin and casket, the latter is generally understood to denote a four-sided funerary box, while a coffin is usually six-sided. However, coffins having a side with a curve at the shoulder instead of a join are more commonly used in the United Kingdom. First attested in English in 1380, the word derives from the Old French cofin, from Latin cophinus, which means a basket. The earliest attested form of the word is the Mycenaean Greek ko-pi-na, receptacles for cremated and cremulated human ashes are called urns. A coffin may be buried in the ground directly, placed in a vault or cremated. Alternatively it may be entombed above ground in a mausoleum, a chapel, some countries practice one form almost exclusively, whereas in others it may depend on the individual cemetery. In part of Sumatra, Indonesia, ancestors are revered and bodies were kept in coffins kept alongside the longhouses until a ritual burial could be performed. The dead are also disinterred for rituals, in northern Sulawesi, some dead were kept in above ground sarcophagi called waruga until the practice was banned by the Dutch in the 19th century. The handles and other ornaments that go on the outside of a coffin are called fittings while organising the inside of the coffin with fabric of some kind is known as trimming the coffin, cultures that practice burial have widely different styles of coffin. In Judaism, the coffin must be plain, made of wood and these coffins use wooden pegs instead of nails. All Jews are buried in the same plain cloth shroud from shoulder to knees, regardless of status in life, in China and Japan, coffins made from the scented, decay-resistant wood of cypress, sugi, thuja and incense-cedar are in high demand. Certain Aboriginal Australian groups use intricately decorated tree-bark cylinders sewn with fibre, the cylinder is packed with dried grasses. When a coffin is used to transport a person, it can also be called a pall. Coffins are traditionally made with six sides plus the top and bottom, tapered around the shoulders, another form of four-sided coffin is trapezoidal and is considered a variant of the six-sided hexagonal kind of coffin. Continental Europe at one time favoured the rectangular coffin or casket, although variations exist in size, coffins in the UK are mainly similar to the hexagonal design, but with one-piece sides, curved at the shoulder instead of having a join. In Medieval Japan, round coffins were used, which resembled barrels in shape and were made by coopers. In the case of a death at sea, there have been instances where trunks have been pressed into use as a coffin, coffins usually have handles on the side so they will be easier to carry
A shop window display of coffins at a Polish funeral director's office
Recreation of President Abraham Lincoln lying in repose in replicated coffin at the National Museum of Funeral History, Houston TX, with a police man standing guard.