Sunday, May 4, 2008

TALKING KNOTS - Incan Khipu [Quipu]

Khipu [or Quipu] are intricate knotted textile objects used by the Incas for record keeping. Massive amounts of information were recorded on these deceptively simple looking strings of knots. Every detail has meaning: the colors of the cords; their spacing; the ways in which they are connected; the types of knots used. These are just a few of the attributes that are used in this unique form of written language that dates back 5,000 years. Their vast storehouse of information has only recently begun to be decoded.

Code of the Quipu: Databooks - Marcia & Robert Ascher - look at the Photo Archive

Khipu Database Project - This site is dedicated to the decoding of these artifacts.

A Collaborative Project to Rehouse and Conserve Peruvian Khipu - "Many of the cords have dangles, attachments and extensions like bits of wool, leather, pompons and textiles."

String, and Knot, Theory of Inca Writing - John Noble Wilford

Geometry from the Land of the Incas

An online jigsaw puzzle of the oldest known Quipu can be played on the following site:


Clairan said...

This was fascinating, Gwen. Thanks for posting. I've bookmarked every one!

Gwen Magee (Gwendolyn) said...


I totally agree - I've always been fascinated by the Mayan and Aztec civilizations. It was wonderful stumbling upon this.