Micronesian Diary
Felicia R. Beardsley
Yap State, FSM - March 1999
Yap Day
February 28 - March 1, 1999

Beardsley and Tun Dancer with headpiece
Dr. Beardsley and Deputy SHPO John Tun at Yap Day Celebration
A dancer leads his team onto the field. His headpiece proclaims Yap Day 1999.

Yap Day is officially tomorrow --- Monday --- which, of course, is a state holiday. We spent most of today attending the opening festivities, but tomorrow we'll be really busy with the "official" Yap Day events.

Shell moneyBig doings here. The focus today is on historic properties. John Tharngan has to give a presentation. An award is going to be given for the best traditional house, and so on. John Tharngan had some shell money to show (photo left) and some other interesting artifacts. Shell money --- it looks a bit like a shovel, but it's just a special kind of shell to which is added a woven handle for carrying.

I wore the grass skirt John Tun's wife made for me. She made two, actually, one for me and one for Teresa. They are truly remarkable! This woman did a magnificent job. Mine is coconut, banana, tea, and betelnut leaf --- mostly shredded leaves; Teresa's is coconut and tea leaf --- that is what girls wear. It is interesting wearing one because it is like wearing a bustle or something. They are rather full and they swish when you walk; one girl, an Australian volunteer here, said they are like wearing a tree, you get shade on your legs. They are comfortable to sit in because they are all cushiony; they are difficult to maneuver in, however, if you walk fast (like me) or take long strides. And don't even talk about sitting down or standing up --- especially standing up after sitting down. It can be... well, interesting.

Teresa was sick yesterday with a bad stomach when John Tun and his wife Sophia came over --- along with Paula Creech from the NPS --- for our fittings of the grass skirts. Sophia works in the hospital and in the village dispensary, so she made some local medicine for Teresa --- guava leaf tea. It seemed to help.

Teresa was doing okay today as we made our way around to the different events --- dancing contests, basket-weaving races, spear-throwing contests, and so on. The kids look really cute in their dance outfits.

The kids are getting tumeric painted on them, as well as getting their costumes checked with final finishing touches added.



Spear-throwing contest
Yap Day spear-throwing contest

Basket-weaving race
Yap Day basket-weaving race for girls

Craft booths
There were booths set up for crafts and other goods

These were the opening dancers for the day's activities

Here a troupe of dancers prepares to perform for the crowd

Sitting dance
The sitting dance

Women after dances
Yap Day --- the women who coach the dancers leave the field after the dancers

Mwaramwars, arm bands and wrist decorations adorn the dancers

Next: More Yap Day