The Ancient Quipu Or Peruvian Knot Record

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American Museum of Natural History, 1923 - Quipu - 84 pages

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Page 10 - The fiscal regulations of the Incas, and the laws respecting property, are the most remarkable features in the Peruvian polity. The whole territory of the empire was divided into three parts, one for the Sun, another for the Inca, and the last for the people.
Page 55 - The quipu was a cord about two feet long, composed of different colored threads tightly twisted together, from which a quantity of smaller threads were suspended in the manner of a fringe.
Page 49 - In the same manner the military re1xirts were prepared. In every town some expert men were appointed to tie the knots of the quipu, and to explain them. These men were called /-/ quipucamayocuna (literally, officers of the knots). Imperfect as was this method, yet in the flourishing period of the Inca government the appointed officers had acquired great dexterity in unriddling the meaning of the knots. It, however, seldom happened that they had to read a quipu without some verbal commentary.
Page 56 - The story, once treasured up in the mind, was indelibly impressed there by frequent repetition. It was repeated by the amauta to his pupils, and in this way history, conveyed partly by oral tradition and partly by arbitrary signs, was handed down from generation to generation, with sufficient discrepancy of details, but with a general conformity of outline to the truth.
Page 55 - ... computation demanded by the Peruvians, they were incompetent to represent the manifold ideas and images which are expressed by writing. Even here, however, the invention was not without its use. For, independently of the direct representation of simple objects, and even of abstract ideas, to a very limited extent, as above noticed, it afforded great help to the memory by way of association. The peculiar knot or color, in this way, suggested what it could not venture to represent; in the same...
Page 55 - They were taught to speak their own dialect with purity and elegance ; and they became acquainted with the mysterious science of the quipus, which supplied the Peruvians with the means of communicating their ideas to one another, and of transmitting them to future generations...
Page 49 - All attempts made in modern times to decipher Peruvian quipus have been unsatisfactory in their results. The principal obstacle to deciphering those found in graves, consists in the want of the oral communication requisite for pointing out the subjects to which they refer. Such communication was necessary, even in former times, to the most learned quipucamayacuna. Most of the quipus here alluded to seem to be accounts of the population of particular towns or provinces, tax lists, and information...
Page 63 - The two or three people from Euwari-manakuroo who came with us gave their wives knotted strings or quippus, each knot representing one of the days they expected to be away, and the whole string forming a calendar to be used by their wives until the return of their husbands.
Page 49 - The color for soldiers was red; for gold, yellow ; for silver, white ; for corn, green, &c. This writing by knots was especially employed for numerical and statistical tables ; each single knot representing ten ; each double knot stood for one hundred ; each triple knot for one thousand, &c.
Page 37 - The Yncas also used these chasquis to bring up fresh fish from the sea; and they were brought up, in two days, a distance of a hundred leagues. They have records in their quipus of the fish having sometimes been brought from Tumbez, a distance of more than three hundred leagues.

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