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Contained Identities: The Demise of Yapese Clay Pots

CHRISTOPHE DESCANTES
Asian Perspectives
Vol. 40, No. 2 (Fall 2001), pp. 227-243
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42928503
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Contained Identities: The Demise of Yapese Clay Pots
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Abstract

The loss of ceramic technology is widespread in Oceanic island societies. While this disappearance has taken place at different times, under different conditions, on different Pacific Islands, a model created by examining the technology loss of one society may cast light on the contributing factors to the decline of ceramic production of other Oceanic contexts. A model to account for the relatively recent end of ceramic pot production and use on the island of Yap, Federated States of Micronesia, during the colonial period is offered. Ceramic manufacture on Yap was at least a 2000-year-old tradition before it ceased in the twentieth century. Relying on a historical approach that considers the social dynamics of pots and a combination of archaeological, ethnographic, and ethnohistoric records, the Yapese gradually replaced their ceramic vessel technology with metal pots because of new conditions encountered during contact and colonialism. Factors involved in the ease of replacement of ceramic pots include limited access to the specialized labor required to produce ceramic containers, the superior durability offered by the replacement technology, and the fact that ceramic pots were valued more for their function.

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