National Geographic : 1948 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine A Kapingamarangi Baby Does His Rock-a-bye inaMatting Hammock His shoulders and legstied down, theboy cannot falloutofbed, even when hewriggles orsquirms. swings intheshade ofacanoe shed while mother cooks lunch. or amphibious truck,and afewnative canoes. Yap is known toAmericans mainly asthe land of grass skirtsand stone money. The United States, afterWorld War I,disputed Japanese right to the island group because of the cable stationthere. Today thecable station is gone, butthe grass skirts andstone money remain.* I had been on theisland lessthan anhour when I was taken toaYap "bank." This bank is at Balabat,near theAmerican ad ministrative settlement ofYap Town. Rows of heavy cartwheel-shaped slabs ofstone, 8 to 10 feet in diameter, arepropped against terraces flanking theroadway (page 80). These rough disks,with holes hewn through their centers, were brought here onhazardous voyages from the distant Palaus, some atthe cost of several lives. They arenotmoney but symbols of wealth, asisourown gold hoard hidden at Fort Knox. Most native homes arescattered sowidely that village namesrefer more often toadistrict than toaclosely settled community. Part ofthisdispersion stems from thefactthat Yap foryears hashadadecreasing popu lation. Part ofitalso appears tobeduetotheindividualistic quality ofthepeople. One ofourfellow passengers toYap hadbeen anative schoolteacher returning from study inGuam. Onshipboard hewore clothes. Next time Imethim hewasclad inbreech clout andshoes, theshoes being aconcession totender feet! Betel Makes Yap's Smile Dark Except forthesmall community ofChamor rosnear Yap Town, hardly aman onYap wears anything except hisloincloth and, ifhisfamily rank permits, adecorative wooden comb stuck inhisbushy hair. Dress ofthewomen folk isabulky skirt made ofgrass, ferns, andstrips ofreed (page 81).*See"Yap Meets theYanks," byDavid D.Dun can, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, March, 1946.