Money That You Literally Can't Lift

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The stone money of Yap is also called "rai" or "fei." The currency was typically made from limestone deposits on the island of Palau, then transported by canoe on a dangerous journey to Yap, hundreds of kilometers away. The stones range in diameter from a few millimeters to almost four meters. When they were exchanged, people didn't actually move the stones. Instead, it was simply acknowledged that the money had transferred to a new owner. The stones are occasionally still used in symbolic social transactions.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. The stone discs of Yap had diameters that ranged from several millimeters to almost four meters. 00:39

  2. The largest Yapese stone discs could purchase an entire town. 01:23

  3. The Yapese people didn't literally transfer their stone money from person to person, but simply declared that the stones had changed hands. 01:36

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