Thursday, August 09, 2007

The (somewhat surprising) Color survey of UR016


During the past few weeks, I've gone back to the khipus of the Urton-Brezine Harvard Database, to the Leymebamba series of khipus in particular, and then specifically to khipu UR016 again.

Khipu UR016 is unique in that it has several extended pendant groups (of 101 and 75 pendants respectively) suggesting open space for narrative.

Further, I previously reported that it is unique among the khipus of the Urton-Brezine Harvard Database in that the presence of both SS and SZ knots and so forth.

Presented here is a survey of the cord colors of UR016.

Notable are the following observations:

(1) For the khipu in question, UR016, there are almost an equal number of pendant (220) and subsidiary cords (218), something, in fact, quite surprising.

(2) Almost all of the pendant cords (209) are "light brown" (AB) in color, while only a little more than 1/2 of the subsidiary cords (112) are of that color. This means that almost all of the cords not "light brown" in color are subsidiary cords.

(3) Almost all cords of multiple colors, be they of "mottled", "barberpole" or "joined" variety are subsidiary cords. (Note: only one multicolored cord of the "joined" variety appears in this khipu)

(4) By far the largest number of two-color cords are of the form of a barberpole style cord of the color "light reddish brown-neutral." Forty eight (48) barberpole cords of this color scheme appear in the khipu, all as subsidiaries. (Why? What does the presence of this cord -- and in such a large quantity -- mean?).

(5) The cords of differing colors often appear in clusters along the length of the khipu. As an example, cords colored "pale blue:neutral" seem to appear in several clusters along the length of the khipu.

It is clear from the observations above that there is some intentionality (Urton talks of "markedness", the Aschers of "insistence") present in the use of color in this khipu.

(I) Almost all the pendant cords are "light brown" in color and cords which are not "light brown" in color are used almost always as subsidiary cords.

(II) The clustering of non "light brown" cords, even if they are used as subsidiaries, that is attached to differing pendant cords, is also interesting and suggests some intentionality as well.

In the most basic sense, "subsidiary cords" must "modify" (extend, change, qualify) the meaning expressed on the pendant cords. Afterall, subsidiaries are physically attached to pendant cords and presumably need not be present. Thus subsidiaries carry "extra", "added", "modifying" information.

Of course, HOW these subsidiary cords "modify" information, remains the question.

Data tables supporting this analysis are:

Leymebamba series of Khipus

UR016 color analysis table