Quipu: Ancient Writing System Utilized By The Incas

The bike taxi driver had my quantity instantly. Each time we stepped away from my hotel in Mancora, here I was being offered by him a trip. It took much longer in my situation to find out just what he had been doing using the colorful cords linked with the handlebars of their device. He knotted one cable whenever we paid him. Another cable appeared to be unraveling every time.

It absolutely was a type of dual entry accounting; he tied one knot to record payments. One other do my homework for me cord recorded their costs; a knot had been untied for every tank of gasoline he bought. It absolutely was an excellent system because of this kind of commerce because there’s no paper to blow away within the air that is open.

It really is an operational system of recording transactions that times right back through the period of the Incas.

The Incas never create a written language. Nonetheless, their system of record maintaining called Quipu is exclusive in history. Inca recorded records with knotted sequence. Quipu means knot in Quechua, the language for the Incas.

Various colored twine had split meanings. A residential area warehouse that stored corn, potatoes, bales of wool, along with other commodities would designate a various color for each commodity. Specific strands were tied up up to a base sequence, linking subdivisions of products in rational relationship.

The Inca would not invent Quipu; it had been employed by previous Andean cultures. Quipus have already been discovered throughout the Andes, together with earliest examples are over 5,000 yrs . old. The Incas refined Quipu to a far more level that is sophisticated.

The Inca system that is numeric predicated on ten. Negative figures and exponentials are shown by place. Different knots represent multiples. Zero equals no knot.

Quipu had been a debit / credit system, just like contemporary western accounting. A knot ended up being tied up using one strand and a matching knot ended up being untied to express deals such as for instance a device of stock brought into or taken from a storehouse.

Incan administrators also utilized Quipus to record census information. Into the height of this Inca Empire Quipus that is countless were.

Expert record keepers had been called Quipucamayocs. They certainly were specialists into the language of knots; accountable for inventories, taxation and work documents and census counts. Inca kings and nobles had been been trained in Quipu, but commoners that are ambitious discover it and start to become Quipucamayocs.

Machu Picchu’s famous explorer, Hiram Bingham observed, “The cords were knotted in a way to represent the decimal system and were fastened at close intervals across the major strand of this Quipus. Therefore a message that is important towards the progress of plants, the quantity of taxes gathered, or perhaps the advance of an enemy could possibly be speedily delivered because of the trained runner across the post roadways.”

Through the conquest because of the Spanish the Incas destroyed some Quipus to protect vital protective information. When the Conquistadors discovered the knotted strings had been an as a type of interaction they started to destroy them.

The Conquistadors never learned just just how Quipus worked and had been dubious of those. The Catholic Church declared them a type of idolatry and ordered the burning of most of them.

Today just 850 Quipus that is complete remain preserved in museums and universities. They’ve been extremely examined, plus some researchers are sure that Quipu was more than simply a numeric system.

Gary Urton, an anthropologist and Carrie Brezine a mathematician claim you will find semantic in addition to numerical elements in Quipus. They genuinely believe that Quipu was Inca composing having an alphabet formed of string. With therefore few examples left to examine, we possibly may never ever discover all of the secrets tangled up within the knots.

Types of Inca Quipus is visible at:

Museo Nacional de Arqueologia, Arntopologia ag e Historia del Peru, Plaza Bolivar, Pueblo Libre, Lima , phone 463-5070.

Museo Amano, Calle Retiro 160, Miraflores, Lima , phone 331-2909.