Yap stones

On the beautiful islands of Yap, about 900 miles east of the Philippines, are huge ancient carved stones that were used as a form of currency.  These doughnut-shaped limestone carvings, known as Rai, weigh as much as 4 tons.  They originally varied in value according to their size, quality, history, and the effort in obtaining them.

The Rai were highly valued because there was no limestone on Yap.  The stones were quarried, shaped, and transported by sea from Palau, about 275 miles away.  Adding to the difficulty, the Yapese made the Rai without metal tools, and brought these massive objects home on rafts, towed by wind-driven canoes (without navigation devices).

In 1874, an enterprising sailor named David O’Keefe started producing and shipping many Rai stones using modern tools and ships.  However, even though his stones were very large, they had far less value than stones that had been obtained by traditional methods and had prestigious histories.

Don’t we have examples of “Yap stones” in our own society?  Accurate digital timepieces are everywhere, but high-end, intricate mechanical watches are still highly prized.  A fast, unpunctuated email is certainly a message but, when it counts, a well-crafted note is greatly appreciated.  We can just click a button to “like” something but, when it’s important, it’s far more meaningful to talk with someone about it and discuss our reasons.

Modern technologies provide us with unprecedented advantages.  But there is still great value in including a personal touch, skill, and effort in our dealings with each other.

George M. Pomonik
Pomonik Consulting, Inc.
“Chaos Removal Services”SM

Copyright © George M. Pomonik, 2013. All rights reserved.

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