Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Knots Present in the Khipus from Leymebamba (UR001-UR022)


William Burns Glynn has arguably gone for a "home-run" with his 10 consonant theory for Inca writting, be it by means of Tocapu signs stitched onto Inca ceremonial garments, or by means of khipu themselves.

At the other end of the spectrum, would seem to be Harvard Professor Gary Urton, who sought to approach the task of Khipu decipherment in a most general and systematic way, tabulating the various characteristics of both the Khipu pendant and subsidiary chords themselves (color, ply [S/Z]). attachment to the main chord, and end) as well as properties the knots found on these chords (type, number of loops, and directionailty[S/Z]).

Equipped with such tabulated data, one can then look both for patterns, and the exceptions to patterns. The discernment of exceptions to the norm, can yield significant information. These exceptions can be assumed to be intentional, hence definitely encoding some kind of information.

Obviously, one would not know information what information each exception would encode. However, with further study, one could perhaps discern a second (deeper) level of pattern in those exceptions.

However, the first step is to produce good tabulated data.

A master databook of the Khipus originating from Leymebamba (UR001 - UR022 of the Harvard Data base) is given here.

I have previously noted that Khipu UR016 in the Leymebamba series appears to be unique in the organization of its constituent pendant chords. Normally, pendant chords in the khipus of Leymebamba series would be organized in rather small or tight groupings of 5-8 pendant chords. In the case of Khipu UR016, there are three groupings of pendant chords that are far larger (looser) than this. These groupings contain 101, 75 and 30 pendant chords respectively. Such looser groupings, suggest a looser, less formated type of data present (ie possibly narrative).

The relative uniqueness of Khipu UR016 can further be seen when comparing the frequency of the various types of knots present in the Khipus of the Leymebamba series.

Leyland Locke noted that khipus from the Inca-era exhibited three types knots which he called simple (S), looped (L) or figure-eight (E) style knots. Gary Urton noted further that these knots can be tied in two directions, that is, showing directionalities of either S or Z.

Thus there are six types of knots possible: SS, SZ, LS, LZ, ES or EZ.

A survey the frequency of the types of knots present in the Khipus in the Leymebamba series (UR001-UR022) is given here.

Such a survey yields the observation that normally all the S knots and L notes in a Khipu are oriented in the same direction (either S or Z). However, Khipu UR016 is an exception. First, the S and L knots are oriented in opposite directions (S knots are predomiantly oriented in the S direction, while almost all the L knots are oriented in the Z direction). Second, most S knots in UR016 are of an S direction, a insignificant number of S knots (nearly 20%) are oriented in the Z direction. When one considers that often a string of S knots present on a pendant chord from Khipu UR016 begins with an SZ knot followed by a string of SS knots, the presence of exceptional SZ knot at the head of the longer string of SS knots suggests that the expectional SZ knot encodes some special meaning.

A further survey of exceptional knot combinations present in the pendant and subsidiary chords of the Khipus of the Leymebamba series is given here.

Finally, a more detailed survey of the frequency of the types of knots present in the Leymebamba series (in this case taking into account number, that is, the number of single knots present on a pendant or subsidiary chord, or the number of loops present in the looped knots present on such chords) is given here as well.

The point of all making such tabulations is once again to seek to identify both patterns as well as exceptions to them present in the khipus from this (Leymebamba) series.



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