Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to Quipu: Chinampas
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(quipu, “knot,” in the language of the Quechua Indians), a “writing” system consiting of knots, which existed among a number of Indian peoples in South America; the quipu was most widely known and used in the ancient Inca empire in what is now Peru.

The quipu consists of a thick cord or stick to which varying numbers of thinner cords were attached perpendicularly. The cords differed in color (which had symbolic meaning), length, number, and shape of the knots tied on them. Opinions vary as to the function of the quipu; according to the most questionable notion, the quipu contains the texts of chronicles, laws, decrees, and poetic works; according to another theory the quipu signifies only numerals—that is, it was a mnemonic device used for counting (the present-day Quechua Indians in Peru use the quipu for keeping accounts of livestock); since the oldest quipus were discovered in burials, a third theory suggests that they served as a part of burial rituals.


Diringer, D. Alfavit. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English.)
Jensen, H. Die Schrift. Berlin, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
El "Quipu de la Memoria" tiene lugar desde el 2005 cada 31 de Mayo.
The complexity of the Cuzco government and tax obligations produced a bureaucratic functionary called a quipucamayoc , an expert in using the quipu , the Inca recording system.
Los autores agradecen a la Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Sede Medellin por la financiacion de este trabajo enmarcado en el Proyecto DIME QUIPU 20101009543 y al Dr Charles Porter del CDC por su apoyo constante y asesoria.
QUIPU. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2005.