Money That You Literally Can't Lift

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.

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

Written by Curiosity Staff July 9, 2015

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