Narrative Threads: Accounting and Recounting in Andean Khipu

Paperback | August 15, 2002

EditorJeffrey Quilter, Gary Urton

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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.

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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'...

Format: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

AcknowledgmentsPreface Jeffrey QuilterPart 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 HowardPart 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 AscherPart 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 QuilterPart 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 HarrisonPart 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 MackeyContributorsIndex

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