Thursday, September 14, 2006

W. Burns - Clarifying Assumptions Regarding Color and Numerical Coding on Khipus

A clarification. On pg 70 of W. Burns Glynn's book Decodificacion de Quipu, he writes of three possibilities in regards to the encoded content on a khipu.

(1) The Khipu contains strictly numerical / statistical information, where upon, this would most easily be encoded in the knots of the Khipu (as per already the widely accepted work of Leland Locke and Ascher-Ascher).

(2) The Khipu contains both linguistic/descriptive and numerical/statistical information. Here, the numerical information would be most likely encoded in the knots of the khipu and any explanatory linguistic information (notably any labels-headings identifying the items being quantified in the knots) would be encoded in the colors of the chords on which the knots occurred.

(3) The Khipu contains only linguistic/descriptive information, whereupon, it would be simpler again to just encode the information using knots, and any color coding would be used to simply to draw attention to the contents of a particular chord (much like bolding or underlying or italicizing a section of text).

In the pages that follow in Burns' book, he presents a list of items (all with short Quechua names) which, through the records of the early Colonial Chronicles have been known to have been listed on khipus (population census items, agricultural goods, textile goods, available stocks of various armaments, etc).

The short Quechua labels are key here, because they turn out to be able to be expressed by one or two consonants, that is, through the use of a one or two colored thread.

The catalog common items that Burns states were reported in the Colonial record as having been kept track of / encoded on khipus will be made available to the readers of this blog in the form of a table in the coming day or two.

Dennis (moderator)

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