Sunday, November 19, 2006

Table of Andean Types of Yarn - Aymara Expressions for and uses of - added

I also posted a chart of Aymara expressions for various types of camilid yarn traditionally produced in the Andes, as well as their uses.

Note that different kinds of yarn are used for different tasks and some yarn types are even associated with gender.

Reference: Penelope Z. Dansart, Earth, Water, Fleece and Fabric - An Enthnography and Archeology of Andean Camilid Herding (London and New York: Routledge 2002) pg 114-118.

Dennis Kriz

Table of Aymara expressions for Shades of Brown / Grey Added

Penelope Dansart noted recently that the Aymara speaking people of Isluga (near the Bolivian-Chilean border) conceptionally group colors in according to ascending or descending shades of brightness. The Isluga people call a conceptional grouping shades of colors a kisa.

Today I posted a chart of expressions used by the Isluga people to describe natural (undyed) camilid fibers of various shades brown and grey.

Reference: Penelope Z. Dansart, Earth, Water, Fleece and Fabric - An Enthnography and Archeology of Andean Camilid Herding (London and New York: Routledge 2002) pg 105-106.

Dennis Kriz

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Color Signification Table Added

Hi folks,

I added a Color Signification Table (Ver 1.00) to help in discerning any meaning that may be encoded in the colors of the chords making-up a khipu.

I will continue to update this table as I find more sources discussing the cultural meanings given to various colors by the peoples of the Andes (both in the past and in the present).


Friday, November 03, 2006

Ascher-Ascher Multi-Color Designations

While most individual chords a khipu are of a single color, often enough, chords appear that are multicolored the following are designations given by Ascher-Ascher to characterize multicolored chords:

X-Y expresses the case where two chords of colors X and Y are twisted together giving a barbershop pole or peppermint stick effect.

X:Y expresses the case where a chord where the colors X and Y are interspersed giving a mottled effect

X/Y expresses the case where the color X ends and Y begins somewhere along the chord.


Binary Coding and Markedness in Urton's Signs of the Khipu

In his book Signs of the Khipu (Austin: Univerisity of Texas Press, 2003), Harvard Researcher Gary Urton, argues convincingly that investigation of Khipus must take into account various binary decisions made by the khipu makers in the construction of the khipus that we have.

Urton catalogs 7 binary decisions made by the khipu makers while attaching every single pendant to a khipu's main chord. These are:

(1) Pendant chord material: cotton or wool
(2) Color class: Red (creator) rainbow or Dark (mourning) rainbow*
(3) Chord Spin / Ply: Z (clockwise)/S (counterclockwise) or S/Z **
(4) Pendant attachment: Recto (attaching loop behind the chord) or Verso (attaching loop in front of the chord)
(5) Knot directionality: Z or S
(6) Number class: ch'ulla (odd) or ch'ullantin (even)
(7) Information type: decimal or non decimal

At minimum, Urton argues that the knots present on a khipu ought to be seen from now on as being qualified somehow by these seven other characteristics, the first 4 characterizing each pendant chord present on the khipu, and the latter 3 being further characterizing each knot present.

He argues that taking this more global approach offers the best possibility for answering the question of whether or not the information present on the khipus we have will ultimately be decipherable.

Finally, Urton notes that by taking this approach, one is able to discern instances of markedness on the khipus.

As an example: single knots (representing 10s or 100s according to Leyland Locke's decimal interpretation system for khipus) on a khipu are generally of an "S" directionality. Occasionally however, the first single knot of a string of single knots present on a pendant chord is of an opposite "Z" directionality, while all subsequent single knots following that first single knot on the pendant are again of "S" directionality. It would seem that this exceptional "Z" single knot (occuring, when it does occur, always as the first in a string of single knots) marks something, that is, is meant to express some meaning. What did that exceptional "Z" single knot mean? At present, we don't know, but it seems to have meant something.


Some further explanations:

* the Color classes (Urton, Signs of the Khipu, pg 110-111)

Puka K'uychi (Red Rainbow) or Kamaq K'uychi (Maker / Creator Rainbow)
a) q'illu k'uychi (yellow rainbow)
b) panti k'uychi (light violet rainbow)
c) q'umir k'uychi (green rainbow)
d) rosada k'uychi (rose-colored rainbow0

Lutu K'uychi (Dark / Morning Rainbow)
a) panti k'uychi (light violet rainbow)
b) q'umir k'uychi (green rainbow)
c) celeste k'uychi (light blue rainbow)
d) muradu k'uychi (plum colored rainbow)

each of these "rainbows" could be broken up into 4 shades
1) pale
2) next (darker)
3) next (even darker)
4) mother (darkest)
5) father (black)

** Spin / Ply. (diagrams shown in Urton, Signs of the Khipu, pg 63, 71)

Each chord would be spun out of wool or cotton either in a clockwise (Z) or counter-clockwise (S) direction. In the attaching of a pendant chord to the main chord of a khipu, the pendant chord would be halfed, the loose ends would be pulled through the looped end, attaching it around the main chord (the chord being in front of (R) or behind (V) the loop), and then the loose ends would be plied (braided) around themselves again in a clockwise (Z) or counter-clockwise direction (Z) and finally tied together at the loose end. Generally, the direction of the plying (braiding) was opposite to the chord's spin.