Leisure Recreation and the Arts

The greatest amount of leisure time for both young Yapese men and women is dedicated to dance. Elders participate in dance as well, but the amount of practice time is less than for those who must still learn the fundamentals. Yapese boys and girls participate in dance when they are as young as 5 years old. All village and multivillage ceremonies are accompanied by dances that play a significant part in the function being celebrated.

Yapese dances are strictly segregated by sex. Both sitting and standing dances are performed by young women, mature women, and sometimes mixed age grades. A similar breakdown occurs for men's dances. Certain dances categorized as erotic, "love dances," are performed by both men and women. These dances are held only after the small children have gone to bed. Dance practices are always supervised by elders who teach and criticize the performance. Even when the dance is to be performed by women, the male leaders of the village determine when enough practice has taken place. On the day the dance is to be performed before the public, much attention is paid, by both male and female dancers, to their appearance. In addition to bright clothing, hibiscus skirts for women and loincloths for men, dancers also adorn themselves with brightly colored flowers, turmeric, and face paint.

Prior to the Japanese administration, Yapese men and women adorned themselves with tatoos. As a general rule, women tattooed their legs, arms, hands, and lower torso, and sometimes their genitalia. Women who were mispiil, "men's house mistress," had a distinctive tatoo pattern. Yapese men often had full-bodied tatoos. Elaborate tattooing for both men and women was restricted to the high caste. Low-caste men and women could adorn themselves with tatoos, but the patterns were limited, as was the amount of body that could be so adorned.

Prior to the German administration (1896), village warfare was commonplace in Yap. During these times, young men were required to dedicate much of their time to learning the intricacies of weaponry and battle. Many dances and games were specifically designed to train young warriors. Early accounts of Yapese warfare state that a formal declaration of war was always delivered by a man before the opening of the battle, but it always fell to a woman to make the initial peace offer (Muller, 1917).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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