Shell Currencies

Shell Currencies


Have you ever dreamt of being on an island where the only financial system is based on seashells and precious rocks or stones… If so you’re not the only one! After digging a little deeper on this island life daydream we found the island is Micronesia called Yap. Yap is a cluster of islands that stretch for 600 miles in the vast Pacific Ocean. Yap proper, a group of four main islands within a barrier reef, is approximately 500 miles southwest of Guam, 300 miles northeast of Palau, and 800 miles due east of Cebu, Philippines.

Their most highly valuled money on the island is called ‘Gaw’ and is a necklace formed of shells and whale teeth. Mainly possessed by head chief’s of the islands. ‘Yar’ is the more local currency or what we would consider ‘shell money’ and is now used for more traditional purposes like wedding gifts, local medicine and also for a strong gesture in a sincere apology.

 The cultures and sub cultures of all the cluster of islands are truly a rarity in our time. It is a place where traditional forms of navigation are practiced and often the use of hand-hewn canoes is the main form of transport.. It’s a culture that lives of the land and the sea, organic, traditional and rich is historical legend.

Go exploring!


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