Palau News and Links ( Palauan News ) 

  Load above: US radar
An Account of the Pelew Islands, 1803, by George Keate, p.206-212:


Of Their Houses—Their Domestic Implements—
Their Weapons of War—Their Canoes.

    Their houses were raised about three feet from the ground, placed on large stones, which appeared as if cut from the quarry, being thick and oblong; on these pedestals the foundation beams were laid, from whence sprang the upright supports of their sides, which were crossed by other timbers grooved together, and fastened by wooden pins; the intermediate spaces closely filled up with bamboos and palm-leaves, which they platted so closely and artificially as to keep their habitations warm and exclude all wet; tnd their being raised from the ground preserved them from any humidity.

    The floors were in general made of very thick plank, a space of an inch or two being left between many of them. But in some of the houses they were composed of large bamboos split, which being perpetually trodden over, rendered them very slippery.

    The interior part of the house was without any division, the whole forming one great room.
    In general, the fire-place stood about the middle of it, sunk lower than the floor, with no timber below it, the whole space beneath being filled up with hard rubbish; but in the larger buildings, where they held their public meetings, they had a fire-place at each end.
    Their fires were in common but small, being mostly used to boil their yams, and to keep up a little flame at night to clear away the dews, and smoke the mosquitoes.

    Their windows came to the level of the floor,, and served both for doors and windows, having stepping-stones at all of them to enter by. To prevent any inconvenience from wind or rain, which so many apertures might occasion, each of them had a bamboo frame or shutter, interwoven as the sides of the houses were, which sliding on bamboo rods, were easily slipt on one side when any body wanted to go in or out.
    On the top of the upright sides beams were laid across, from whence sprang the roof, which was pointed like our barns, the whole inside being clear; this made their houses within very lofty and airy; the outside of the roof was thatched very thick and close with bamboos or palm-leaves.

    This was the general form of their houses; some of which were from sixty to eighty leet in length, but these were appropriated to public uses, such as meetings of business, or festivity; at other times they served the natives to assemble in and chat together, where the women usually brought their work, and joined in the conversation. Those which were more properly domestic habitations, were the same, both in shape and texture, though less in dimension.
    It was remarked, that the family kept on one side of the central fire-place, and the servants on the other.


    In a country where no aid could be obtained from the assistance of iron tools, and where every thing which was convenient and useful could only be produced by much time, labour, and patience, and at last fashioned by such poor means as necessity, stimulating invention, by slow degrees brought about, it will not be expected that their domestic implements would be numerous.
    Among the things most essential to their idea of comfort, were little baskets, which they always carried about with them; they had different sorts, some of them were of very nice texture, woven from slips of the plantain-leaf. In these they usually carried their beetle-nut [areca nut], their comb, and their knife; nor did they omit having a little twine in it, to tie up any thing they might want to keep together. They had also wooden baskets with covers, very nicely carved, and inlaid with shells. These they hung up in their houses, for use and decoration.

    Their best knives were formed of a piece of the large mother-of-pearl [nacre] oyster shell, ground narrow, and the outward side a little polished. The sort more common was made of a piece of some muscle-shell [clam shell], or of a split bamboo, which they sharpen to an edge, and render exceedingly serviceable.

    Their combs were formed of the orange-tree: the handle and teeth fashioned from the solid wood, and not in separate pieces closely connected together, like those brought from most of the late-discovered islands.

    No man stirred abroad without his basket of beetle-nut. The common order of people had a short piece of bamboo, in which they carried the powdered chinam [this is coral burnt to a lime, which they shake out through one end of the bamboo where they carry it, on the leaf of the beetlenut], to strew over the beetle-nut before they put it in their mouths. The rupacks or great people had their chinam in a long slender bamboo, nicely polished, and inlaid with pieces of shells at each end; and these were often not inelegantly fancied.

    Their fishing-hooks were of tortoise-shell. Their twines, their cords, and all their fishing-nets, were well manufactured, and made from the husks of the cocoa-nut [coconut]. The mats on which they slept, and threw over them when at rest, were formed of the plantain-leaf.

    At their meals they generally used a plantain-leaf instead of a plate; the shell of the cocoa-nut serving as a cup to drink out of, which they sometimes polished very nicely. They made also vessels of a kind of earthen-ware, of a reddish brown colour, and mostly of an oval shape. In these they heated their water, and boiled their fish, yams, kc. Our people observed the natives were particularly careful of this pottery, never permitting any of it to approach the fire unless gradually, and always moving it with great caution; from which circumstances it is probable they have not yet discovered a method of burning it sufficiently.

    A bundle of cocoa-nut husks, tied together, formed a broom, to dust or sweep their habitations. The only conveniency they had for keeping water in their houses, or bringing it from their springs, was thick bamboos, that had a bore of five or six inches diameter; these they placed upright, and stopped them when they wanted to pour any out, being at the upper end lipped so as to form a kind of spout.

    Their hatchets were not unlike those of the South Sea islands, of which so many have been seen in England; the blade part being made of the strongest part of the large Kima cockle [giant clam shell], ground to a sharp edge. But they were happy to adopt iron, when it had been given to them.
    They had also another kind of hatchet, which was formed in a manner to move round in a groove, that the edge might act longitudinally, or transversely, by which it would serve as a hatchet, or an adze, as occasion required.
    Uncouth as their hatchets might appear to our people, it was a matter of surprise, to observe in how little a time the natives were able to fell a tree with them, though not without breaking several.

    The things which I have above mentioned were such as their natural wants required; when these had been provided for, ingenuity superadded a few articles, which might in these islands be deemed luxuries. The shell of the tortoise was there remarkably beautiful, and the natives of Pelew had discovered the art of moulding it into little trays or dishes, and into spoons, with which, on particular occasions they eat their fish and yams. Some of the great ladies had also bracelets of the same manufacture, and ear-rings inlaid with shells.

    How they conceived this art of working the tortoise-shell, or the idea of improving on a natural advantage, or what process they made use of to effect it, our people had no opportunity of discovering.

    On days of public festivity, there was usually brought out the vessel mentioned in page 68, as representing a bird, the top of which lifted off, forming its back. It contained about thirty six English quarts; and was filled with sweet drink for the King and his rupacks. This was Abba Thulles property; and when one considers it as the work of so much time and patience (and the more estimable, as being the only vessel of the kind in their country), the King's giving it to Captain Wilson [Henry Wilson, captain of the British East India Company's packet ship Antelope] at his departure, as already mentioned, was an additional proof of the liberality of these people, who were ready to divest themselves even of what they most valued, to give to their friends.


    The principal weapons used in their battles were spears; they were commonly about twelve feet long, formed of the bamboo, with the pointed end made of some wood exceedingly hard; they were barbed transversely, so that, having once entered the body, it was difficult to draw them out without lacerating the flesh, and widening to a great degree the wound.

    Another war-weapon was the dart and sling. The sling was a piece of wood about two feet in length, with a notch made in it, wherein the head of the dart was fixed. The dart was of bamboo, pointed with an extreme hard and heavy kind of wood, like the spear, which they compressed with their hand, till the elasticity of the bamboo had formed such a curve as experience told them would reach the object aimed at; then letting it slip from the notch, it flew forth, and fell by its gravitation with the point downward, so as to effect the purpose of being destructive if it fell upon the enemy.
    It is hardly to be conceived with what address they directed this weapon, or the distance at which it would prove mortal. Their spears were only calculated for a certain distance, not being in general missible beyond fifty or sixty feet.
See also: Indonesia News - Philippines - Taiwan
    Papua New Guinea - Micronesia

All of Palau
is one time zone
at GMT+9 with no DST

  Palau News

    Republic of Palau: After three decades as part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific under US administration, this westernmost cluster of the Caroline Islands opted for independence in 1978 rather than join the Federated States of Micronesia.

    A Compact of Free Association with the US was approved in 1986, but not ratified until 1993. It entered into force the following year, when the islands gained independence.
    CIA World Factbook: Palau

Area of Palau: 458 sq km
slightly more than 2.5x the size of Wash., DC

Population of Palau: 20,796
July 2009 estimate

Languages of Palau:
English, Palauan official in all states except:
Sonsoralese & English official,
Tobi & English official, and
Angaur, Japanese, & English official

Palau Capital: Ngerulmud, Babelthuap Island
about 20 km northeast of fomer capital Koror

Weather Underground World Forecast Search:

enter city, nation:  

West Pacific Weather Satellite Image

  Free Books on Palau (.pdfs)

...Shipwreck of Horace Holden... Holden 1841
...Voyages and Travels... Delano 1818
An Account of the Pelew Islands Keate 1803

Online Book Search Engines

  Palau Reference Articles and Links

Wikipedia: Palau - History of Palau
BBC Country Profile: Palau
US State Department: Palau Profile Micronesian Seminar
Maps of Palau

Embassy of Palau, Washington D.C.
Embassy of the Republic of Palau
1701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20006
Tel 202-452-6814
Fax 202-452-6281

Governments on the WWW links

WikiTravel: Palau
US State Dept Palau Travel

  Palau News Websites

ABYZ: Palau News Links

  Palau Internet Directories

Yahoo!: Palau directory
Google Palau directory

    They had other spears about eighteen feet long, which were only used when they came to close quarters with the enemy when they went to battle, some of the rupacks carried in their canoes a kind of sword, made of very hard wood, and inlaid with parts of shells; this they only made use of in personal engagement; they were of sufficient weight to cleave a man's skull.

    Our people saw a very few daggers, made of the sting of the Ray-fish [stingray], which is jagged all upwards from the point; they sheathed them in a bamboo, and their handles were of wood, formed into some grotesque shape; the whole length of the weapon not exceeding thirteen inches.


    As their battles were generally fought in canoes, these may with propriety follow the account of their warlike implements.
    They were, like most other canoes, made from the trunk of a tree dubbed out; but our people, who had often seen vessels of this sort in many other countries, thought those of Pelew surpassed in neatness and beauty any they had ever met with elsewhere; the tree out of which they were formed grew to a very considerable height, and resembled much the English Ash. They were painted red, both within and without,* and inlaid with shells in different forms.
    When they went out in state, the heads and sterns were adorned with a variety of shells strung on a cord, and hung in festoons.

    The smallest vessel that they built could hold four or five people, the largest were able to contain from twenty-five to thirty. They carried an outrigger, but only on one side; and used latine sails made of matting. As they were not calculated to resist a very rough sea, they rarely went without the coral reef, and seldom, within it, had any violent sea to encounter; whenever it blew hard the natives always kept close under shore.

    In visits of ceremony, when the King or the great rupacks approached the place where they intended to land, the rowers flourished their paddles with wonderful address, and the canoes advanced with a stately movement; at other times they got on with an amazing velocity. When they went against Artingall [Melekeok, Palau], the little canoes, which our people termed Frigates, as carrying orders from the King to his officers, flew about like arrows. and scarcely seemed to touch the water.
    In the grand expedition to Pelelew [Peleliu, Beliliou], where a fleet of upwards of three hundred canoes of different sizes were collected together, they formed a most beautiful and splendid appearance.

    *As their mode of applying their paint was uncommon, it may merit being particularly described: the colours are crumbled with the hand into water, whilst it is warming over a gentle fire in earthen pots; they carefully skim from the surface whatever dry leaves or dirt may float on the top; when they find it sufficiently thick, they apply it warm, and let it dry upon the wood: the next day they rub it well over with cocoa-nut oil; and, with the dry husk of the cocoa-nut, give it, by repeated rubbing, a polish and stability that the waves cannot wash off.

The New York Times, July 31, 1898, p.3:


Value and Beauty of the Islands of Spanish Micronesia
Topography, Products, and Natives of the Region
Where America May Locate a Coaling Station.

    WASHINGTON, July 30.—Consul Doty of Tahiti, under date of July 8, 1898, sends a communication from F. W. Christian of the Polynesian Society of Wellington, New Zealand, a well-known explorer in the central Pacific. The letter contains an interesting description of the Caroline Archipelago, and is given, in part, as follows:

    Spanish Micronesia, according to the treaty made with Germany in 1885, lies between the equatorial line to the south and the eleventh northern parallel and the meridians 139 degrees 12 minutes and 24 seconds and 170 degrees 12 minutes 24 seconds eastern longitude.
    Six hundred and fifty-two islands lie scattered over this wide stretch of sea. The Spanish do not place the Mariannes (Ladrone Islands) in Micronesia; the large southernmost island, Guam or Guajan, lies some 550 miles to the north of Lamotrek. The Caroline Archipelago consists of thirty-six minor groups, of which the nine following are the principal: The Palaos or Pelews, Yap [Wa'ab], Uluthi, Uleai, Namonuito, Hogolen or Ruk, the East and West Mortlocks, Bonabe or Ponapé, and Kusaie, otherwise called Ualan or Strong's Island.

Spanish Administration Bad [The Pelew Group].

    The Pelew group contains some 200 islands and islets. The principal island is Bab-el-Thaob [Babelthuap, Babeldaob], which in area is equal to all the rest put together. The most important part of the others are Korror [Koror], Uruk-Tapel, Malk, Peleleu, and Angaur.
    The population of the Pelews is estimated at some 3,000, but is probably much more. The language is a very peculiar and bizarre Malayan dialect, somewhat akin to that of Sulu Archipelago. The principal products are turtle shell, copra [dried coconut meat], and béche de mer [sea cucumbers] (Holothuria), which in the Chinese market brings as much as $400 gold per ton.

    There is always civil war going on in the group between the various tribes, and a firm hand is needed to keep things in order there. Capt. Butran, of the Velasco, (lately sunk at Manila,) who visited the group in 1885, gives these natives a good name. Capt. O'Keefe, however, a wealthy trader of Yap, gives them a doubtful reputation, putting them down as folk of piratical and turbulent character.

    The enormous quartz wheel, the famous and curious stone money of Yap in this group, were quarried in the Island of Kokial. In olden time there was great commercial activity here, and the Yap and Pelew folk went on extended voyages of trading and conquest.
    Bab-el-Thaob is rich in good timber. Great quantities of yams, breadfruit, and cocoanuts are grown. Alligators are found in some of the creeks, and a peculiar kind of horned frog. There are two kinds of snakes, which the natives call Bersoiok and Nguus, both somewhat venomous. There is abundance of good pasture for horses and cattle. Goats are plentiful, probably introduced by the early Malayan settlers.

    The Spanish have done next to nothing to show their occupation, and everything goes on much as before. There is no Spanish garrison. The country is well worth opening upto honest and energetic trade. All that is needed here is a little firmness with the petty local rajahs, as with the cousins of British North Borneo and the Dyaks, whom they much resemble. A fringing reef fifty-three miles long from north to south surrounds the Pelews—a menace to navigators which has destroyed many a Macao-bound vessel. Some 300 miles northeast of Pelews are Yap and the other islets of the group, of which Ramung to the north, Tarrang to the south, and Engnoch are the principal...

This page's URL is: