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Knot Direction in a Khipu/Alphabetic Text from the Central Andes

  • Sabine Hyland (a1), Gene A. Ware (a2) and Madison Clark (a3)
Abstract

Khipus are knotted-string devices that were used in the Inka Empire for communication and for recording information. We recently analyzed the names and associated khipu cords in a newly discovered hybrid khipul alphabetic text from the Central Andes. Results indicate a significant relationship in the text between knot direction and a form of social organization known as moieties, in which S-knots correspond to the upper (Hanan) moiety and Z-knots correspond to the lower (Urin) moiety. This relationship suggests that knot direction was used to indicate moiety in Andean khipus and, as such, may represent the first decipherment of a structural element in khipus since the decoding of the number system in the 1920s.

Resumen

Los quipu son dispositivos de cuerdas anudadas que se utilizaron en el Imperio Inca para la comunicación y para el registro de información. Nosotros hemos analizado recientemente los nombres y las cuerdas quipu asociadas a un quipu híbridoltexto alfabético recién descubierto en los Andes Centrales. Los resultados indican una relacion significativa en el texto entre la dirección del nudo y una forma de organización social conocida como mitades, en la que los nudos con la dirección S corresponden a la mitad superior (Hanan) y los nudos con la dirección Z corresponden a la mitad inferior (Urin). Esta relación sugiere que la dirección del nudo se utiliza para indicar las mitades sociales en khipus andinos y, como tal, puede representor el primer desciframiento de un elemento estructural en quipu desde la decodificación del sistema numérico en la década de 1920.

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References
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Latin American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 1045-6635
  • EISSN: 2325-5080
  • URL: /core/journals/latin-american-antiquity
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