Yap is a high island in western Micronesia. Prior to European contact, Yap had extensive commercial and political links with neighbouring islands. Yap is famous for its 'stone money' - enormous stone disks that served as signs of wealth and as a medium of exchange.

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Traditional Culture(1909)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 597-598
Dobbin (2011), pp. 152
Nature god(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 503-616, 555-556
Ancestral spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 447, 503-616, 524
Deified ancestor(s) Absent (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 503-616
God(s) Present, and the principal focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 503-616, 504-512
Dobbin (2011), pp. 143, 148

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Walleser (1913), pp. 19, 23

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 448
Walleser (1913), pp. 7
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 521-522
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and creationist (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 520-521
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 503-512
Culture hero(es) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Walleser (1913), pp. 14
Muller (1917), pp. 503-616

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 509, 521

Classes of Tapu

Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Labby (1976), pp. 70
Walleser (1913), pp. 24
Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Schneider (1957), pp. 791-792


Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blevins (2008)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blevins (2008)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Present (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 333-334
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 528
Salesius (1906), pp. 134
Largest religious community Larger than a local community, smaller than the society (Source)
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 144
Political and religious differentiation Some overlap (Source)
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 104


Piercing Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 37, 43, 448
Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 22-90, 43
Scarification Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 57
Tattooing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Senft (1903)
Marksbury (2004)
Genital cutting Absent from culture (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 22-90
Senft (1903), pp. 8
Social Environment +
Population 8000 (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 17
Hunt et al (1949), pp. 36a
Population of largest political community 1,000-9,999 (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 17, 393-393, 406
Lingenfelter (1991), pp. 393
Importance of Patrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 392-393
Importance of Matrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 392-393
Polygamy Monogamy preferred, but exceptional cases of polygyny (Source)
Schneider (1953), pp. 218
Marital residence Patrilocal or virilocal - with husband's kin (Source)
Lingenfelter (1991), pp. 393


Conflict within community Moderate (Source)
Labby (1976), pp. 98, 108
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 175
(No) internal warfare Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 392-393, 406
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 205
(No) external warfare Rare or never (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 1-7, 331-334
Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Lingenfelter (1991), pp. 391
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 164.5 (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 7
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Distance to nearest continent 2293.0 (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 7
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Absent: No evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.21
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.23
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Marksbury (2004), pp. 976
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Minor (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 100
Agriculture / Horticulture Major (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 91-93, 118
Land-based gathering Major (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 91, 118
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Absent (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 100-108
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 100-108, 104

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Medium (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 100, 114, 122-156
Water-based gathering Medium (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 100, 108, 114
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Medium (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 100, 114, 122-156

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Major (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 217-231
Senft (1903), pp. 28
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 7-9
Lingenfelter (1991), pp. 391

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Volcanic high island (Source)
Labby (1976), pp. 1
Island Size (km²) 100.2 (Source)
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 391
Maximum elevation (meters) 173.0 (Source)
Fisher (1950), pp. 55


Latitude 9.5 (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 7
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 138.1 (Source)
Muller (1917), pp. 7
Google Maps (2014)
Post Contact History(1909-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +


Use of force in conversion Medium (Source)
Hunt et al (1949), pp. 5
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 272
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 1
Bouma et al. (2010), pp. 157
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 269-270

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Absent (Source)
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 269-272
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Labby (1976), pp. 3-4
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 272-273
Immigration Absent (Source)
Throop (2008), pp. 407
Language shift Low (Source)
Throop (2008), pp. 407
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Labby (1976), pp. 5

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Throop (2008), pp. 407
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present and substantial (Source)
Throop (2008), pp. 407

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present and widely used (Source)
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 275
Throop (2008), pp. 407
Air travel Present, local only (Source)
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 275
Sea port Present (Source)
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (2009), pp. 178

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Largely voluntary (Source)
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 269-272
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Lingenfelter (1972), pp. 272-273
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Bouma et al. (2010), pp. 157
External Links
Bellwood, P. (1995). Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. P. Bellwood, J.J. Fox, & D. Tryon (Eds.), The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (pp 113-114). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

Blevins, J. (2008). Some Comparative Notes on Proto-Oceanic *Mana: Inside and Outside the Austronesian Family. Oceanic Linguistics, 47 (2), 253-274. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ol/summary/v047/47.2.blevins.html

Blust, R. (2007). Proto-Oceanic *Mana Revisited. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 404-423. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20172322

Bouma, G. D., Ling, R., & Pratt, D. (Eds.). (2010). Religious Diversity in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Berlin, Germany: Springer.

Cribb, R. (2000). Historical atlas of Indonesia. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014). http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-distance-calculator.htm.

Dobbin, J. (2011). Summoning the powers beyond: Traditional religions of Micronesia. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Fisher, H. I. (1950). The birds of Yap, western Caroline Islands. Pacific Science, IV, 55-62.

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from maps.google.com

Hunt, E. E., Schneider, D. M., Kidder, N. R., & Stevens, W. D. (1949). The Micronesians of Yap and their Depopulation: Report of the Peabody Museum Expedition to Yap Island, Micronesia, 1947-1948. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum, Harvard University. Retrieved from http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseCulturesFullContext&col=collection%28%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Oceania/OR22%27%29&docId=or22-001&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

Keesing, R. M. (1984). Rethinking "mana". Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(1), 137-156, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629696.

Labby, D. (1976). The demystification of Yap: Dialectics of culture on a Micronesian island. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Lingenfelter, S. G. (1972). Political Leadership and Culture Change in Yap. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Retrieved from http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseCulturesFullContext&col=collection%28%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Oceania/OR22%27%29&docId=or22-012&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

Lingenfelter, S. G. (1991). Yap. In Hayes, T. E. (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of World Cultures Volume II: Oceania (391-394). New York, NY: G.K. Hall & Co.

Marksbury, R. A. (2004). Yapese. In C. R. Ember & M. Ember (Eds.), Encylopedia of sex and gender: Men and women in the world’s cultures (976-984). New York, NY: Springer.

Muller, W. (1917). Yap. Hamburg: L. Friederichsen & Co.

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (2009). World Port Index Nineteenth Edition. Bethesda, MD: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Salesius, F. (1906). The Carolines island Yap. Berlin: Wilhelm Susserot.

Schneider, D. M. (1953). Yap kinship terminology and kin groups. American Anthropologist, 55, 215-236. doi: 10.1525/aa.1953.55.2.02a00060

Schneider, D. M. (1957). Political organization, supernatural sanctions and the punishment for incest on Yap. American Anthropologist, 59(5), 791-800.

Schneider, D. M. (2000). Abortion and depopulation on a Pacific island. In B. D. Paul (Ed.), Health, culture, and community: Case studies of public reactions to health programs (211-235). New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

Senft, A. (1903). The Marshall Islanders. Berlin, Germany: Verlag von Julius Springer. Retrieved from http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseCulturesFullContext&col=collection%28%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Oceania/OR11%27%29&docId=or11-011&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP (Originally published 1903)

Tetens, A. & Kubary, J. (1873). The Carolines Island Yap or Guap, according to the reports of Alfred Tetens and Johann Kubary. Journal des Museum Godeffroy, 1, 84-130.

Throop, C. J. (2008). On the Problem of Empathy: The Case of Yap, Federated States of Micronesia. Ethos, 36 (4), 402-426. DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1352.2008.00024.x.

Walleser S. (1913). Religious beliefs and practices of the inhabitants of Yap (German South Seas). New York, NY: Jesuit Bureau.