Sunday, May 06, 2007

A new project regarding the - Ascher-Ascher Database


I've given myself a new project to improve the analysis of the khipu data recorded in the Ascher-Ascher database.

The Aschers themselves suggested that khipus are organized in pendant groups resembling formatted databases. It would therefore be important to determine not merely the frequency of cords of particular color or knot characteristics present in the khipus of the database, but rather to analyze their frequency within pendant groups of particular sizes / characteristics.

In order to do this however effectively, some changes need to be made in the presentation of the information given in the XLS file containing the Ascher-Ascher database.

So I will be adding three columns to the “pendant info” datasheet in the XLS file giving:
(1) the number (identifying label) of the pendant group (within each khipu) to which each pendant cord listed in the database belongs.
(2) the size of the pendant group in question (number of cords comprising it).
and (3) the position of the pendant cord in question within its pendant group (1st, 2nd, 3rd).

With this information, one can far more quickly determine the frequency of pendant cords with particular color, knot characteristics within the pendant groups present in the khipus comprising Ascher-Ascher database.

While I make this improvement to the XLS datafile, I will also expand the information given by the Aschers regarding the attachment characteristics (location) of the subsidiary chords attached to the pendant cords of the khipus in the database.

This also will allow one to quickly identify the various conventions (at least in terms of attachment location) used by the khipu makers in attaching the subsidiary cords to the pendants.

Working at a rate of about 10 khipus a day, I figure it will take me about a month to make the necessary changes, but then the analysis of the information present in this database ought to fly.


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.



ASCHER-ASCHER DATABASE - some mild proof-reading corrections done


Just a note that I did some mild proofreading / corrections on the "pendant info" page of the Ascher-Ascher XLS file. Basically, some of the info for about 150 (out of 17,000) of the pendants was shifted by a column in direction or another. The info is now in the correct columns.

What remains is correcting the "subsidiary location" data on the "pendant info" page as the notation used by the Aschers was often understood by the XLS file to refer to time (hh:mm:ss) data rather than simple numbers.

I'll eventually get to that, but probably not immediately as (1) this data isn't particularly important to me at this time, and (2) the PDF files for the ASCHER-ASCHER database are readily available via the internet and so whoever would need this information right away, could do the corrections him/herself.

Anyway, I'll periodically improve upon the XLS file of the Ascher-Ascher Database as need be, making note of the date / version of the corrections at the top of the first page of the file.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

ASCHER-ASCHER DATABASE (Vols 1-2) now completely transcribed to XLS form


Tonight I finished the transcription of the Ascher-Ascher Khipu Database (both Volumes 1 and 2) to XLS form.

You can access it at:

It can also be accessed via the Links sidebar of this blog.

Now the playing can begin ;-)