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Traditional Culture

Meeting Houses (YAP)

The meeting house, called “Pe’bai(Pe’ebai)” and “Faluw”, is found in each village in the island of Yap, the western-most island chain of the FSM, and it’s most culturally intact. Pe’bai is a kind of public hall where men, women, and children come together for various community activities. Faluws stand along the shoreline and serves as a port, workspace for men, and a learning space for cultivating traditional work skills. To this day, women are not allowed near Faluws. These beautiful and striking traditional architectures of Yap are constructed entirely by hand using only local materials.

Stone Money (YAP)

Stone Money, ‘Raay’ or ‘Feaq’ in Yapese, is a traditional currency in Yap and unique in the world, where its usage still exists even today. The value of stone money is derived by the oral history of each piece. These massive carved stones were transported from one particular quarry site in Palau and remain a cornerstone of Yapese culture, as expressed on both the State flag and the State Seal. The money can be seen throughout Yap, but especially within the traditional village centers of the main island that is Yap proper.

Traditional Navigation (YAP)

The canoe – pliant and beautifully organic – binds the sea to the land. Powered only by plaited leaf sails and human sinew, guided by the winds of trade and the timeless maps of the infinite stars above and the ocean’s currents and depths below, it is perhaps the single most important symbol of the Pacific and its islands. The canoe brought the original inhabitants and all of their native foods to the islands of Micronesia. In Yap, traditional navigation and voyaging is alive and strong, with voyages in recent years to Japan, Hawaii and Tahiti to help teach those cultures the nearly lost art of traditional navigation of the ocean, and to rekindle old but ancient ties. The Yap Traditional Navigation Society holds the Annual Canoe Festival, a three-day event held in November-December. The Festival demonstrates Yap’s unique talents that can be seen nowhere else in the world.

Love Stick (CHUUK)

Traditionally, young men would own personalized wooden love-sticks on which they would carve two of the same design. A short one would be carved to be utilized for his hair, the long one would be for the woman. When a man likes a woman, he uses the long love-stick to poke into her hut or her hair. If the love-stick’s design is that of the man she likes, she will pull the love-stick signaling for him to come in. If the woman pushes the love-stick out, it means she is not interested in the man.

Devil Mask (CHUUK)

The story of the Devil Mask originates from a long time ago. On the island of Tol, there lived a legendary ghost that kept stealing food from the starving people. As a result, the people decided to carve a devil mask to scare the ghost away. Later on, it happened in such a way that all the people came together and wore the mask. When the ghost came to their place to steal food, it saw devils surrounding the area. The ghost got scared, ran away, and never came back.


Island skills: building a local hut, weaving a mat, making ropes from braided palm husks, planting taro, hunting wild boar, making a trap, carving a canoe, climbing a coconut tree, preparing local medicines and tinctures or making lais from beautiful flowers are all important parts of the true Island life-style. Each of the main and outer islands of FSM possesses unique and exceptional skills that are used daily as part of normal life here.


Handicrafts are locally made accessories, woven bags and materials and carvings that are made from wood, shells and fibers of palm tree or banana. These are made by traditional techniques with simple tools such as a small axe, a knife and a needle. A carved shark and a manta from wood or locally made accessories from sea shells or ivory nuts are common popular items. Some of the best artisans of island handicrafts hail from the FSM. These are unique and beautiful souvenirs to bring home.

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