Stone Money of Micronesia–Rai stones


A large, circular stone disk with a hole in its centre, carved out of limestone is known as Rai Stones. Micronesia located in the Pacific Ocean has a tiny island called Yap. People live here are called Yapese. In Yap Island there is no gold or silver, the Yapese found limestone deposits and carved the stones as money. The monetary system relies on an oral history of ownership. Because these stones are too large to move. There are also small stones found in centimetres and the large stones weights in tons. The largest rai stone is located on Rumung island, near Riy village. Smaller rai stones might have a diameter of 7–8 centimetres. Buying an item with one simply involves agreeing that the ownership has changed. As long as the transaction is recorded in the oral history, it will now be owned by the person it is passed on to and no physical movement of the stone is required.

Yap stone money is such a unique archaeological oddity that stone money pieces are on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution and other museums in the U.S., Russia, Japan and Germany. Banks in Switzerland and the U.S. have acquired stone money pieces as well. The stone money is so fascinating that even Walt Disney Productions published a Donald Duck comic book on the subject entitled: “The Stone Money Mystery.” Today, it is against the law to export Yap’s traditional stone money. Unfortunately, almost half of all the stone money was lost or destroyed during World War II. The estimated number remaining is approximately 6,600 pieces.

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Author and Assistant Professor in Finance, Ardent fan of Arsenal FC. Always believe "The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance - Socrates"
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