Yap Clothing

You’ve probably already seen the pictures on the left hand side and noticed that female dancers are wearing special grass skirts. They are handwoven and known as “lavas”. As previous posts explained, it is very improper of women to show their thighs in public and that is why each lava extends below the knees.

“Thus” is the name of the loincloths Yapese men traditionally wear. Star Newspaper explains that elderly men in Yap wear dry hibiscus and a lava lava with their thus, which signifies they’ve proven their manhood through fighting. Younger men typically wear t-shirts and shorts. The same source also notes that boys in villages still grow up wearing thus and they do that in a special order, starting with a single piece of cloth, and then adding pieces of cloth as they grow older until they get to three pieces which are blue, red or white.

This blog talks about the unique things in Yapese culture but as a result of the Western influence in Micronesia, many parts of Yap and the surrounding islands are now modernized. In Colonia, the capital of Yap, a visitor can see both men and women wearing Western clothing. You can also see a shirt over a lava lava skirt, or yet another combination- a topless woman talking on a cell phone. And we just added another reason on the list of “Why Yap Is So Cool”.



  1. James Chong Said:

    Is it mandatory for foreign visitors to follow the dress of locals in the outer islands like Mogmog, Woleai and Fais?

    • It is not mandatory for foreign visitors to follow the dress of locals but female visitors are expected to cover their thighs in public, bathing suits are “okay” on the beach or by the pool but not in the villages. And since every local carries a basket along, as a visitor you don’t have one, so the Visitors Center advises carrying a small branch with you which shows locals you’re not looking for trouble :).

  2. James Chong Said:

    Hi. Thanks for your reply. It is just that I read from reports that Peace Corps volunteers that work in the Outer Islands like Woleai and Mogmog have to dress up like locals do, that is thuw for men and lava lava for women… with no tops or shirts allowed.

    • Thank you for replying, James :)! I tried to do a quick research and the Peace Corps website suggests packing Western comfortable clothing but I can see how volunteers who live in the Outer Islands can be expected to wear local clothing if they live among the islanders. The villages are more traditional, Colonia, the capital of Yap, doesn’t have such requirements. If you’d like to give me links to these reports, I’d love to check them out and write a post about that. Thank you very much for the info and your comments! I appreciate your feedback!

  3. James Chong Said:

    Oh, I thought you were from Yap. Looks like you are foreigner like me tooJ. Anyway, I will get you the links later. A bit busy now. Where are you from?

    • absalom Said:

      hello from the pacific ocean

  4. Julio Cesar Said:

    Hi…I’m from Brazil and i found this blog by searching Micronesia pics in Google Earth, after look to tool that displayed one link to search.

    Beautyful place…

    • absalom Said:

      i am from the micronesian’s state. I just wanna thank you for saying that its a beautiful place.
      it means alot to us.

      thank you

  5. Dana Smith Said:

    Thank you for your wonderful blog. I had the great fortune to work in Yap in the late 90’s training nurses and medical officers for several months. I brought back a few beautiful lava lavas and would love to acquire some more. I have no idea how I would look into this. Do you have any advice?
    Thank you!

    • absalom Said:

      I have no any other good advice to give you, but all i can say is come for a visit someday.
      And maybe you can get some lava lava for you

      thank you

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