A Story in Knots

Quipu

We often talk of textiles telling stories, and in some cases this is literally true. For example, the Bayeux Tapestry uses embroidered pictures to tell the story of the Normal conquest of England. Another, less well-known example are the quipus used by the Incan empire.


Quipus (or khipus) are made up of a series of knotted cords that were used to transfer information. They were translated based on the color and number of cords as well as the type, number, and positioning of the knots on the cords. Archaeologists and historians know they were used for accounting, taxation, and other bureaucratic purposes, but it’s also theorized they may have held genealogies, cultural stories, and calendars.

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