This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Nuts and Bolts: quipu.

This is a quipu:

That's an Inca one, as it happens, but they've been used in many parts of the Andes.

Used for what?

Well, for recording things. (It's the knots in the strings that tell you what the quipu says.)

So, what do they say? Well, probably the usual sorts of things: taxes paid, dates, and the size of your army.

Most of the knots seem to represent numbers (they're read according to both their shape and position) but now, excitingly, research is being done which may unlock the meaning of some groups of knots which seem to form words.

The quipu system mostly died out with the decline of the Inca people, but there are remnants still alive. In some places quipu make up part of the formalities when officials take up their posts, and in the village of Tupicocha, in Peru, quipus are still used for official local government record-keeping.

 A person who records information by means of a quipu is called a quipucamayoc.

I can't honestly say I'd want to swap my keyboard for a quipu, but I'm jolly glad the people of Tupicocha keep the quipu system going, all the same.

Thing To Consider Today: quipus. Quipu is the word for knot in Cusco Quechua.

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