Underwater Stone Money Tour
Part of the Island’s charm are the stories and folklore about Stone Money. The other day diving O’Keefe’s Passage, Gordon showed me some encrusted buried treasure.
Stone Money is still valued and traded today. The value is based on each piece’s story about it’s journey to Yap. The harder it was to get here, the more people that were at risk or died along the way, the more valuable the piece.
A little history
In 1871, an American sailor David Dean O’Keefe, came to Yap on a pearl diving expedition, was shipwrecked on Yap and rescued by the Yapese people. He was later taken to Hong Kong on a German trading ship. In 1872 O’Keefe returned as the skipper of a Chinese junk named Catherine, and began trading Stone Money for copra and Beche-de-mer. During this period the largest pieces of Stone Money were quarried in Palau, using iron tools. These pieces are commonly refereed to as “O’Keefes Money” and are not as highly valued as the money brought to Yap by traditional canoes.
There are many stories, some quiet humorous, about Stone Money, it’s a large part of Yap’s history. Just outside the main channel were several pieces of original Stone Money that Gordon showed me. These have been here long enough to start looking like part of the corral landscape. Thousands of years of Yapese history and culture laying on the shoulder of the reef.
This was a Yap Divers guide bonus. After a clear water outer reef float, I got a small Yap history lesson. When you’re diving here a cool thing to do is ask your guide or boat captain to tell you a Stone Money story. Rich in facts and some tall in it’s tale, either way, it’s not a bad way to spend some surface time on the boat.