What is a Quipu?
News Opportunities Academe Language Tools Web Resources Reprints/Reports Country Profiles Glossary

What is a Quipu?

Chapter 80 in "Tao Te Ching" by Lao Tzu (600-300 BCE)
"A small country has fewer people.
Though there are machines that can work ten to a hundred times faster than man, they are not needed.
The people take death seriously and do not travel far.
Though they have boats and carriages, no one uses them.
Though they have armor and weapons, no one displays them.
Men return to the knotting of rope in place of writing.
Their food is plain and good, their clothes fine but simple, their homes secure;
They are happy in their ways.
Though they live within sight of their neighbors,
And crowing cocks and barking dogs are heard across the way,
Yet they leave each other in peace while they grow old and die."
This quote was sent in by Robert Benfer

Drawings of Incas using the quipu come from the "Indian Chronicler", Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, dating to 1613.

Try out some the following links to the meaning of 'quipu' both ancient and modern.
Quipu:a vortal dedicated to researchers of Andean archaeology
Article published in 2001 The New Review of Information Networking 7:213-219 by Patricia J. Knobloch and Bruce Harley. Describes why and how this web site was created and how it is being maintained.
http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~bharley/QUIPUNRINarticle.html

What is a khipu?
Description with reference to Marcia and Robert Ascher's book, Code of the Quipu; a Study in Media, Mathematics, and Culture (Dover Publications, Incorporated, New York. À 1997) and Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala (1613).
http://wiscinfo.doit.wisc.edu/chaysimire/titulo2/khipus/what.htm

Code of the Quipu: Databooks
A compendium of information by Marcia and Robert Ascher including: detailed descriptions of over 200 quipus; references by others; and, locations of extant specimens.
Visit: http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/research/quipu-ascher/

Quipu: A Modern Mystery
Brief description of 'Inca Facts' hosted by Simon Fraser University.
http://www.sfu.ca/archaeology/museum/laarch/inca/quipue.html

QuipuNet
a voluntary group of Peruvians living in different countries around the world who have formed a cybernetic link, offering their knowledge and help to the project, Education at a Distance. Our primary mission is to channel resources, materials and knowledge to the places that are most in need in South America with an emphasis on Peru.
http://www.quipunet.org/

Perú - Kipu/Quipu, Cultura Inca
Image from the US State Department - Ilustraciones de las categorŒas de objetos sujetas a la restricciün de importaciones por los Estados Unidos
http://exchanges.state.gov/education/culprop/1peru/00000031.htm


Last Updated: January 21, 2020 Contact: Dr. Patricia Knobloch, huarpa@cox.net