Narrative Threads: Accounting and Recounting in Andean Khipu by Jeffrey QuilterNarrative Threads: Accounting and Recounting in Andean Khipu by Jeffrey Quilter

Narrative Threads: Accounting and Recounting in Andean Khipu

EditorJeffrey Quilter, Gary Urton

Paperback | August 15, 2002

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The Inka Empire stretched over much of the length and breadth of the South American Andes, encompassed elaborately planned cities linked by a complex network of roads and messengers, and created astonishing works of architecture and artistry and a compelling mythology—all without the aid of a graphic writing system. Instead, the Inkas' records consisted of devices made of knotted and dyed strings—called khipu—on which they recorded information pertaining to the organization and history of their empire. Despite more than a century of research on these remarkable devices, the khipu remain largely undeciphered.

In this benchmark book, twelve international scholars tackle the most vexed question in khipu studies: how did the Inkas record and transmit narrative records by means of knotted strings? The authors approach the problem from a variety of angles. Several essays mine Spanish colonial sources for details about the kinds of narrative encoded in the khipu. Others look at the uses to which khipu were put before and after the Conquest, as well as their current use in some contemporary Andean communities. Still others analyze the formal characteristics of khipu and seek to explain how they encode various kinds of numerical and narrative data.

About The Author

Jeffrey Quilter is Director of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. Gary Urton is the Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies, Harvard University, as well as a MacArthur Fellow (2001–2005).
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Details & Specs

Title:Narrative Threads: Accounting and Recounting in Andean KhipuFormat:PaperbackDimensions:391 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:August 15, 2002Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292723679

ISBN - 13:9780292723672

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Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface (Jeffrey Quilter
  • Part One. Background for the Study of Khipu and Quechua Narratives
    • 1. An Overview of Spanish Colonial Commentary on Andean Knotted-String Records (Gary Urton)
    • 2. Spinning a Yarn: Landscape, Memory, and Discourse Structure in Quechua Narratives (Rosaleen Howard)
  • Part Two. Structure and Information in the Khipu
    • 3. A Khipu Information String Theory (William J Conklin)
    • 4. Reading Khipu: Labels, Structure, and Format (Marcia Ascher)
    • 5. Inka Writing (Robert Ascher)
  • Part Three. Interpreting Chroniclers' Accounts of Khipu
    • 6. String Registries: Native Accounting and Memory According to the Colonial Sources (Carlos Sempat Assadourian)
    • 7. Woven Words: The Royal Khipu of Blas Valera (Sabine P. Hyland)
    • 8. Recording Signs in Narrative-Accounting Khipu (Gary Urton)
    • 9. Yncap Cimin Quipococ's Knots (Jeffrey Quilter)
  • Part Four. Colonial Uses and Transformations of the Khipu
    • 10. "Without Deceit or Lies": Variable Chinu Readings during a Sixteenth-Century Tribute-Restitution Trial (Tristan Platt)
    • 11. Pérez Bocanegra's Ritual formulario: Khipu Knots and Confession (Regina Harrison)
  • Part Five. Contemporary Khipu Traditions
    • 12. Patrimonial Khipu in a Modern Peruvian Village: An Introduction to the "Quipocamayos" of Tupicocha, Huarochirí (Frank Salomon)
    • 13. The Continuing Khipu Traditions: Principles and Practices (Carol Mackey)
  • Contributors
  • Index

Editorial Reviews

"A veritable encyclopedia of the khipu, this volume pulls together new and groundbreaking work by the foremost experts, attacking the problem from a wide variety of perspectives and integrating analysis from historical, archaeological, and ethnographic perspectives." - Thomas A. Abercrombie, Associate Professor of Anthropology, New York University