Friday, May 04, 2007

"Markedness" among the Khipus of the Ascher-Ascher database - I - The employment of Multicolored Cords


Using Urton's concept of "markedness" (or the Ascher's concept of "insistence," I do believe that we can, over time, compile a list of conventions employed the quipumayoc (khipu makers)

For instance, a survey the occurrence of multicolored cords among the 205 khipus catalogued in the Ascher-Ascher database, yields the following observation: There are khipus in which virtually all the "barber pole" or "mottled" multicolored cords occurring on these khipus occur only as subsidiary cords (cords that are attached to the pendant cords which are attached directly to the main cord), while in other khipus, virtually all such multicolored cords occur directly as pendant cords.

A table surveying the presence of multicolored cords on the khipus of the Ascher-Ascher database is given here:

The "markedness" expressed in this observation can be appreciated in the fact that even though some of these khipus employ _dozens_ of such multicolored cords, at times the khipumayoc appear to decide to use them _only_ as subsidiaries, and in other khipus _only_ as direct pendant cords.

Thus in making these khipus, the quipumayoc appear to have made consistent decisions to employ the use of such multicolored cords _only_ in one way or _only_ in the opposite manner.

The question then becomes why? Why would the quipumayoc make such decisions to be consistent in one a way within some khipus and yet use the opposite convention within others? Is this evidence of two schools of khipumayoc, or (more likely) evidence of two different types of khipus, one type employing multicolored cords in one way, and the other employing them using the opposite convention?

A further look at the khipus making up these two sets could yield further consistent structural consistencies within the sets, and structural differences between them.

Other examples of "markedness" (convention, counterexample) within the body of khipus cataloged in the Ascher-Ascher database should be identified. For by doing so, a fundamental "grammar" of khipu construction could be discerned.




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