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Impressive Museum Quality Yap Stone Weighing 84 Pounds at GreatCollections

Ian Russell on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 05:14:37 AM
GreatCollections is proud to offer a rare and impressive Yap Stone weighing 84 pounds in their auctions on May 6, 2018.  Pre-auction bids have already hit $14,000 with almost two weeks to go.

Yap Stone Money, or Rai, are some of the most intriguing forms of currency in the world. Rai are smooth and round calcite stones indigenous to the Palau group of Islands. Centuries ago, after the Rai stones were quarried using tools made from clam shells, they were expeditiously transferred back to the island of Yap.

The Rai stones provenance can be traced back to the Island of Yap in the early 1800s, where they played an integral part of Yap’s financial system. Rai stones were used as a trading medium at the time, a practice that continues to this day, although, on a much smaller scale. The stones can be referred to as Fei, Stone Money or Yap Stones, but it’s the original name of Rai that remains most common today. Most examples of Rai stones are considered rare and sacred amongst the predominant Yap people.

The largest Rai stones exceed 12 feet in diameter, weighing as much as two tons each. Considering their use as currency, this technically makes the stones the world’s largest coins. Due to their large size and weight, the stones often traded ownership without physically being transferred to new locations. The larger Rai stones would usually transfer ownership at special ceremonies or large gatherings, where there were many individuals present to witness the transaction.

Over the span of decades, different museums around the world have made Rai Stones an integral part of their prized collections. One of these is none other than the renowned Smithsonian Museum, which houses several examples of Rai stones in its collection. Around the world, other museums in Russia, Japan, and Germany have also followed suit by adding Rai stones to their exhibits. Some have stated that Rai stones are part of their major attractions, if not their main attraction.

Since the late twentieth century it has been illegal to export Yap Rai stones from the island of Yap. Therefore, it is scarce to see examples surface in the marketplace. Examples that are available usually derive from long time sophisticated collectors, museums or private institutions that are legal to own. Here collectors have an opportunity to own a special museum piece that is seldom offered to the public and will hopefully soon reside in a deserving prized collection.

The example offered here is a very attractive piece featuring a fairly circular shape with one side showing a slight raised ridge attesting to the hand hewn nature of its creation. Pleasing light brown and honey in color with a few streaks of grainy rock add character to the stone. Sure to take a place of prestige in whatever collection it enters.

Approximate Size: 23 1/2” x 21” x 4”.
Approximate Weight: 84 lbs.

View the Yap Stone at GreatCollections