True to its name, Micronesia is made up of
small islands - yet it covers no small area. This last and beautiful island world, part of
which belonged to Spain in the days of her glory (see map below). But Spain lost her
interest in her Pacific empire and to relieve her financial difficulties following the
Spanish-American War, she sold her Micronesian islands to Germany in 1899 for about
The first guns of the first World War had
hardly been fired in Europe when Japanese war ships sailed south and occupied this part of
Micronesia. At the Peace Conference in 1919, the islands were entrusted to Japan as a
mandate from the League of Nations.
The rare historical images on this site were taken in
early 1936 and provide a fascinating insight into island life and culture as it existed at
this time. I hope that you enjoy your visit back in time to some of the
mysterious islands of Micronesia.
A seventy "piece"
orchestra provides the cadence for a native dance in Ponape (Pohnpei). The girls make a
clicking rhythm with drumsticks on the long board which they hold on their laps. The men
keep time with their hands. The attire worn by the women suggest a foreign missionary
Early map of part of
In the midst of this Japanese mandate lies the isolated
American island of Guam,
long and important cable centre and the United States
Naval Station. Recently,
Guam and Wake became increasingly important as bases
on the trans-Pacific airmail route.
A growling watch dog is Uracas
that guards the approach to Micronesia
Pods found on this spiny kapok tree of the Palau Islands
contain a soft white
material, used extensively as substitute for cotton in
stuffing mattresses, quilts and pillows
The village "all men
house" from which women are barred
In this club house, members must
cook their own meals. Each man builds a fire on a little clear space in the
When they eat, backs are turned as
though they are not on speaking terms. These houses are constructed
without nails from old palm pillars and bamboo walls that
are lashed together with coconut-husk cords.
Visitors to the elaborate massive stone structures of Nan
Madol on the island of Ponape (Pohnpei). The mighty building blocks which composed the
structure make the English castles seem delicate and lady-like in comparison. The quarries
where these mammoth hexagons and octagons were obtained are fifteen or more miles away.
To transport the stones must
have required craft very different from the present native canoe, and to raise them to
their positions must have been a herculean task, even with the aid of inclined plane and
Indeed, Nan Madol was no isolated fort, nor even a walled
village. It was a city, made up of about 50 fortified islets extending over eleven square
miles - most of it now hidden by the advancing jungle. It seems clear that this city was
built up out of the lagoon, and is not a land city that has sunk. It was constructed by a
race of superior civilisation apparently very different from our present Micronesian
people who live in thatched huts and make no use of the mammoth basaltic prisms in
any of their buildings.
According to tradition, a
dynasty of kings by the name of Chau-te-Leur reigned in the city, but was finally
overthrown by a savage invader, Idzikolkol, who stamped out the old civilisation,
abandoned the island metropolis, and established his brown race in the jungles of Ponape
(Pohnpei), there to remain practically unchanged to this day.
Nan Madol is one of the most
intriguing mysteries of Micronesia.
These ancient columns stand on Tinian
Island. Comprising square cuts monuments of coral, with flower pots on top, they may have
supported floors of temples or marked the graves of a vanished race. The stones appear in
parallel rows and burial remains have been found around the basis of the shafts.
As water streamed down the tree trunk, it is diverted to
the crude pottery jar,
where it is collected for drinking
One of the twelve kings of Yap, this man
is allowed to wear this ornament in
This photograph shows a
Palau woman preparing food on her
A young girl practises writing in Ponape (Pohnpei).
Translated the words mean "Blessed
are the poor in spirit"
An old Palau chief uses a conch-shell trumpet to
announce a council meeting. A native mattock hangs over
The men of Palau sing a death chant to their dead chief.
Afterwards, they will carry his body to the cemetery. Formerly, he would have been buried
beneath these flagstones in front of his house, but the Japanese have now ruled against the practice.
With this simple ox-powered machine, the natives of
Saipan were able to extract the oil
from copra, the dried meat of the coconut
Going shopping with the Yap coin.
Notice the hair ornament indicating
a person of high birth.