Author Topic: Khipu again  (Read 8644 times)

Takler

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Khipu again
« on: July 18, 2007, 10:33:18 PM »
Hello to all,

Surfing and looking some information I found this:
http://khipukamayuq.fas.harvard.edu/index.html

brgds

Marcin
Marcin
Szczecin, Poland

squarerigger

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Re: Khipu again
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2007, 04:59:12 AM »
Hi Takler,

An excellent find - this will undoubtedly take some time to look through the many pages - thanks so much for pointing us in their direction!

SR

DerekSmith

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Takler

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Re: Khipu again
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2007, 09:29:09 AM »
Thanks guy's

I would like to ask a question:

Do you recognize a knots and splices used to tied a khipu. A pictures appeared in my link are not made with high resolution.
But I saw (I think) figure eight knot and some others.
Interesting is how the cord are spliced into main cord.

Could you give me your five cent. . . .


take care

Marcin
Marcin
Szczecin, Poland

DerekSmith

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Re: Khipu again
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2007, 01:57:55 PM »
Thanks guy's

I would like to ask a question:

Do you recognize a knots and splices used to tied a khipu. A pictures appeared in my link are not made with high resolution.
But I saw (I think) figure eight knot and some others.
Interesting is how the cord are spliced into main cord.

Could you give me your five cent. . . .


take care

Marcin


Hi Marcin,

One of the gripes I have with the people who are carrying out the Khipu research is that they are always from the anthropological perspective, never from the knot/cord perspective.  The images are always low resolution and show the overall layout of the Khipu not the knot,and I have never found any images or descriptions relating to the knots themselves.  The mysteries of the Khipu is a fascinating subject and I sincerely hope that one day a dynamic IGKT will contact Khipu researchers with a view to exposing these treasures to knotting and cordage scrutiny.  Hopefully then we will be able to produce a large library of images and information of interest and use to Guild members.

I have to admit to being entranced by the Khipu and the way of life which so utilised and depended upon them.  I have often thought that a modern day Khipu project might be ideal for school children as an adjunct to IT lessons to demonstrate alternatives to how information can be coded and stored.  The 'String Charm Bracelet' project posted recently had the opportunity of moving into the realms of a mini 'Personal Khipu', recording friends and events important to its owner.

Derek

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Khipu again
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2007, 04:41:28 PM »
Do you recognize a knots and splices used to tied a khipu. A pictures appeared in my link are not made with high resolution.
But I saw (I think) figure eight knot and some others.  Interesting is how the cord are spliced into main cord.
I, too, thought I saw a Fig.8 in one of the images of the Harvard prof.'s site,
but that could be an illusion from shadow of the lay of the crude cord.
In general, the knots are (multi-) Overhands, and I asked Charles Warner,
who wrote the chapter in History & Science of Knots about whether
those knots took a symmetric (as in the Grapevine/Dbl.Fisherman's/Strangle knots)
form or asymmetric (as in the Anchor Bend/hitch), and he said some were of one,
some of thte other (a distinction IIRC associated with different regions, not among
one set of quipus).

As for the attachment of the lines to the main cord, that is presented by CWarner
(op.cit.) as a Girth Hitch using the bight end of the 2-strand cord.  I think that one
can discern this in khipukamayuq.fas.harvard.edu/images/KhipuGallery/VA/VA47076-AS152(a).jpg
esp. in the cord with different colored (blue & brown) strands towards the left.
CWarner shows the Overhand, Fig.8, and multiple Overhands.  There is also
one construct wherein a "top cord" is laid along the main cord and several
pendant cords Girth Hitch around both, then the top cord makes its Girth H.;
and there is a case shown of a "subsidiary" cord GH'd to a pendant.

(No sign of any *multiple Fig.8*, but that would make more sense--in being
much easier to form, as no matter the number of turns, there's but one tuck!?
By this I'm pointing to the difference of repeatedly making the Overhand tuck
to build a multiple (which then needs to be drawn snug, in frictive cord) vs.
making an 8-9-Stevedore(10)-11-...-n wrapped knot with the end making the
same simple tuck-through-initial-eye(u-turn part), where the wraps can be
put on tight, and still the eye--left amply large to tuck through--would be yet
easily pulled tight by the end running through the wraps.)

--dl*
====

DerekSmith

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Re: Khipu again
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2007, 06:58:54 PM »

As for the attachment of the lines to the main cord, that is presented by CWarner
(op.cit.) as a Girth Hitch using the bight end of the 2-strand cord.  I think that one
can discern this in khipukamayuq.fas.harvard.edu/images/KhipuGallery/VA/VA47076-AS152(a).jpg
esp. in the cord with different colored (blue & brown) strands towards the left.
CWarner shows the Overhand, Fig.8, and multiple Overhands.  There is also
one construct wherein a "top cord" is laid along the main cord and several
pendant cords Girth Hitch around both, then the top cord makes its Girth H.;
and there is a case shown of a "subsidiary" cord GH'd to a pendant.

--dl*
====

Although I have never seen one of these treasures 'in the cord' so to speak, I have read that in making a pendant cord the khipukamayuq (knot maker/keeper) would select a cord of the chosen material and correct twist and would stain it to the chosen colours.  This string would then be set in place over the main cord and then laid up into a two ply pendant cord of the desired twist (Z or S) and showing the desired colour pattern.

I am fairly sure that this is demonstrated in the image referred to by Dan.  If a girth hitch had been used then there would have been two strands of cord around the main cord, plus of course the free end.  However, in this enhanced section of the center pendant knot, it can just be made out that there is only one strand of cord around the  main cord and the pendant cord is roughly twice the girth of the strand encircling the main cord.

I believe there is a logic to forming the pendants in this manner.  The Khipu were seriously important records, so to loose a pendant because its fastening knot came undone would be catastrophic.  By taking the time to 'make' the pendant on the main cord, its permanence was ensured.

I have also read that the knots recorded in the pendant strings were probably tied, untied and retied frequently, so whatever knots were used had to be easily made, reliable and easily unmade.  This might give some clues as to their form and method of tying.

Francisco Pizarro, described an encounter that he and his men had with khipu keepers on the royal road from the highlands down to the central coast of Peru in 1533. Pizarro notes that when he and his men removed some goods from one of the Inka storehouses, the record keepers "untied some of the knots which they had in the deposits section [of the khipu], and they [re-]tied them in another section [of the khipu]" (H. Pizarro 1920 [1533]: 175 and 178).
from http://www.utexas.edu/utpress/excerpts/exurtsig.html by Barry Urton.

Sadly, none of the photography I have seen so far seems to have been made with a view to being used in any form of detailed research, which is sad, because these few remaining examples will only be handlable for a finite time before all we have left for study is photographic records.  There are only some 600 known Khipu in existance and with the advent of high resoluion digital photography it is time that a concerted attempt was made to record the details of these fragile artifacts for future research.  Again, an ideal role for the IGKT to play.

Derek

squarerigger

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Re: Khipu again
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2007, 01:52:30 AM »
Quote
Again, an ideal role for the IGKT to play.


Agreed - it would be an ideal role for the IGKT to play, IF the IGKT were in reality able to be modeled as a corporation or as a statutory authority having people who could be called upon to perform in that manner.  We are not a corporation nor are we a statutory authority, however, so it is largely up to individual volunteer members to take the lead and then decide how to proceed.  To meet with anthropologists on their own turf and to attempt to inspect what has, to this point, been their sole responsibility with their having no input from the IGKT or any other worthwhile body, unless in the form of another professor who has sought and obtained funding from the Cordage Institute or the Textile Museum, say, to approach a museum that holds the cords, it seems likely that a sharp rebuttal would be felt.

That is not to say that it should not be attempted, but where is the game plan to attempt such a move?  If a plan of action is proposed with appropriate persons nominated to and willing to devote time to such an august endeavour, we may stand some chance of seeing, recording and commenting upon such works.  Until then it is largely moot, but still a good idea, to propose that the IGKT should do this.  The IGKT is a volunteer organization, however, of crafters and talented interested persons who, by dint of their admitted willingness to take part, are deemed to be a repository of information, knowledge and skill that may otherwise fade from existence.  For that reason of their being volunteers, the IGKT is not a corporate body but a body of individuals, and it is to individuals that we must turn to implement and conduct all such activities.   I welcome the instituting of a body of people willing to take on such a project, subject to the above plan of action being proposed and agreed.  Whom, apart from yourself, do you propose should be part of that group?  You may PM me or let me know through the forum, please - action is needed and action requires a plan.

SR

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Khipu again
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2007, 06:19:05 AM »

As for the attachment of the lines to the main cord, that is presented by CWarner
(op.cit.) as a Girth Hitch using the bight end of the 2-strand cord.  I think that one
can discern this in khipukamayuq.fas.harvard.edu/images/KhipuGallery/VA/VA47076-AS152(a).jpg
esp. in the cord with different colored (blue & brown) strands towards the left.
...
--dl*
====
I have read that in making a pendant cord the khipukamayuq (knot maker/keeper) would select
a cord  of the chosen material and correct twist and would stain it to the chosen colours. 
This string would then be set in place over the main cord
and then laid up into a two ply pendant cord
of the desired twist (Z or S) and showing the desired colour pattern.

I am fairly sure that this is demonstrated in the image referred to by Dan.
If a girth hitch had been used then there would have been two strands of cord around the main cord, plus of course the free end.
...
Derek
No, no, you've got it wrong--get a better magnifying lense or monitor or ... !  :o

Perhaps I should've been more precise:  by "Girth Hitch" I mean that the the cord,
which is essentially a 1-strand folded in half and laid up from its center thus into
2-strand cord, is put around the main line and pulled through its eye-end (which
can be seen as a G.H. with parts twisted).  This is not only just discernable as I
pointed out in my reference--i.e., esp. in the cord left of center w/blue&brown strands--,
but in the quite clear sketches of such things in History & Science of Knots
(did you not check this?).  And this is obviously a much more snug-secure attachment
than would be the reliance on twist to keep tight a turn around something--where
any tension on the pendant would open the turn.  (I'm not sure to what your remark
about cord thickness pertains, but I can discern lay in the turn around the main
line, and shortly out from that line the pendant garners "subsidiaries", one of which
is noticeably thicker than the other & pendant.)

Quote
I believe there is a logic to forming the pendants in this manner.
The Khipu were seriously important records, so to loose a pendant because its fastening knot came undone
would be catastrophic.  By taking the time to 'make' the pendant on the main cord, its permanence was ensured.

I have also read that the knots recorded in the pendant strings were probably tied, untied and retied frequently,
so whatever knots were used had to be easily made, reliable and easily unmade.  This might give some clues
as to their form and method of tying.
... .  ... , the record keepers "untied some of the knots which they had in the deposits section [of the khipu],
and they [re-]tied them in another section [of the khipu]" (H. Pizarro 1920 [1533]: 175 and 178).
Well, now, let's not merely mention but use that logic!  You have the right idea, and should
see exactly that in the sort of Girth Hitch I point to.  It would be quite a bother to remove
pendants were they attached as you assert:  one would have to open the turn and then slide
this widened pendant eye over ALL of the other pendants between it and its new location!!
And how can you imagine a GH being at all liable to coming untied in this context?
 ::)

In the brief bio of the Harvard researcher it is stated that he has recorded twist
and other fine details of the structures, and I'll guess that he has some closer
photos of the knots, etc.--and sketches and other models to match.  (C.Warner's
references include many by Ascher & Ascher, & C.L.Day.)  Possibly some of the
current researchers who are reachable for enquiry could provide photos, or
even be moved to newly take them (and host them)?

--dl*
====

DerekSmith

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Re: Khipu again
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2007, 09:47:55 AM »

No, no, you've got it wrong--get a better magnifying lense or monitor or ... !  :o

Perhaps I should've been more precise:  by "Girth Hitch" I mean that the the cord,
which is essentially a 1-strand folded in half and laid up from its center thus into
2-strand cord, is put around the main line and pulled through its eye-end (which
can be seen as a G.H. with parts twisted).  This is not only just discernable as I
pointed out in my reference--i.e., esp. in the cord left of center w/blue&brown strands--,
but in the quite clear sketches of such things in History & Science of Knots
(did you not check this?).
--dl*
====

Hi Dan,

How dare you challenge the size of my equipment Sir!

I use a 21.3" Eizo Flexscan L997 Professional Graphics monitor and utilise Adobe Photoshop which can magnify a single pixel to full screen dimensions.

So if there is any question over my ability to see what is in front of me, then it must have less to do with the screen and the lens and more to do with the clot behind the lens.  But then perhaps you were being polite and not saying it in so many words -- if so, thank you for your oblique candor.

So, down to work.

As I remarked, I have never seen a Khipu 'in the cord' -- only poor photographs and some sketches, and yes some of those sketches indicated a means of attachment as you now describe it (although I had not come across this being called a Girth Hitch before).

And yes again, there might indeed be two knots in this image which could indicate that a cord crosses in front of the pendant cord immediately as it leaves the main cord in line with your latest description.  Perhaps it should be named the 'Khipu Hitch' unless modern day Aztecs already have a name for it.

All of which goes to reinforce my statement that we are in desperate need of high quality archive images of these artifacts to enable and promote research both now (remote from the originals) and in the future when the artifacts are fragile beyond handling.  I think your extrapolation of how a knot might perform - be utilised - is an excellent example of how people who 'live' with knots and cords (i.e. IGKT members) are ideally placed to help bring realistic interpretation into the use and life of these devices.

Do you know anyone who is researching these artifacts, or do you know someone who might (know someone)?

Derek
« Last Edit: July 20, 2007, 07:00:37 PM by DerekSmith »

Znex

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Re: Khipu again
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2007, 02:45:18 PM »
More reference links...

CODE OF THE QUIPU: DATABOOKS
http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/research/quipu-ascher/

Documents describing the quipu's knots, knot clusters, and cord colors
http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/research/quipu-ascher/contents.htm

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Khipu again
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2007, 05:12:39 PM »

No, no, you've got it wrong--get a better magnifying lense or monitor or ... !  :o
Hi Dan,
How dare you challenge the size of my equipment Sir!

I use a 24" Eizo Flexscan L997 Professional Graphics monitor and utilise Adobe Photoshop
which can magnify a single pixel to full screen dimensions.

Wow, your view or the e-world must be rosier than many!!  But, um, "24 inch" is belied by
at least current offerings--e.g. cf. www.eizo.com/products/lcd/l997/index.asp which
sizes it at 21.3".  !?  In any case, my, what a nice side-by-side complement that would be
for say a 20" or 24" iMac!  (Your rotational ability must be nice, i.p. for seeing full text pages.)

" ... single pixel to fullscreen dimensions":  for a study of hue?

-----

No, I don't know anyone intimate w/quipus or khipus; but you have many links already,
and a means to connect to them.  The more I think about the use of the (multi)-Overhand
vs. the extended Fig.8-10-12... with a natural-fibre cord in hand, I see my mistake of
thinking the Anchor-bend form of the knot as hard to tighten--not so, a big eye makes
for easy insertion & snug turns, then draws down upon them.  And a Stevedore (Fig.10,
though sometimes shown as a Fig.9--tsk, tsk) form is if anything more likely to see a
turn or two unwrapping around others, esp. with any tension.  Okay; that leaves the
actual Strangle form as the awkward one re drawing up, where the compounded
friction of material should frustrate a tightening effort somewhat.

I'm glad the European invaders were not completely successful in erasing this
ancient practice.

--dl*
====

squarerigger

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Re: Khipu again
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2007, 05:21:30 PM »
Hi Dan & Derek,

Ascher & Ascher have a Dover book available titled "Mathematics of the Incas: Code of the Quipu" dated 1997 which is a reprint of their seminal work "Code of the Quipu: A Study of Media, Mathematics and Culture" from 1981 by the U of Michigan Press.  The knots for attachment and along the cords (pendant cords, top cords and subsidiary cords) are all shown there.  No mention of who helped interpret the knots, but their original work was started I believe in 1972, so presumably any knot book published before that date may have been helpful to them if they did not already know the knots.  Hope this helps,  ;D

SR

DerekSmith

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Re: Khipu again
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2007, 06:59:54 PM »
Quote
Again, an ideal role for the IGKT to play.


Agreed - it would be an ideal role for the IGKT to play, IF the IGKT were in reality able to be modeled as a corporation or as a statutory authority having people who could be called upon to perform in that manner.  We are not a corporation nor are we a statutory authority, however, so it is largely up to individual volunteer members to take the lead and then decide how to proceed.  To meet with anthropologists on their own turf and to attempt to inspect what has, to this point, been their sole responsibility with their having no input from the IGKT or any other worthwhile body, unless in the form of another professor who has sought and obtained funding from the Cordage Institute or the Textile Museum, say, to approach a museum that holds the cords, it seems likely that a sharp rebuttal would be felt.

That is not to say that it should not be attempted, but where is the game plan to attempt such a move?  If a plan of action is proposed with appropriate persons nominated to and willing to devote time to such an august endeavour, we may stand some chance of seeing, recording and commenting upon such works.  Until then it is largely moot, but still a good idea, to propose that the IGKT should do this.  The IGKT is a volunteer organization, however, of crafters and talented interested persons who, by dint of their admitted willingness to take part, are deemed to be a repository of information, knowledge and skill that may otherwise fade from existence.  For that reason of their being volunteers, the IGKT is not a corporate body but a body of individuals, and it is to individuals that we must turn to implement and conduct all such activities.   I welcome the instituting of a body of people willing to take on such a project, subject to the above plan of action being proposed and agreed.  Whom, apart from yourself, do you propose should be part of that group?  You may PM me or let me know through the forum, please - action is needed and action requires a plan.

SR

Hi Lindsey,

Yes, I understand and agree.  It is easy to issue an order and have an army mobilise, or issue an instruction for employees to engage in a desired activity, and yes the IGKT is 'only' a loose group of amateurs -- not even volunteers -- none of whom have made any declaration of commitment to any action beyond paying their annual sub.  Yet despite this, some of the most advanced research in their field comes from amateur organisations.  You have only to look at Amateur Radio and Amateur Astronomy to see my point.  The flow of volunteers to the various projects comes and goes, but the structure and co-ordination of their efforts is maintained by the volunteer bodies that head them.

Even in industry the role of the volunteer can be foundational.  For example, the Chilled Food Assocation has one full time employee (the Secretary) and everything else is achieved through volunteer effort, co-ordinated by volunteer committees.  The CFA now produce guidelines that every major producer follows, they even advise the governments of Europe on issues of chilled food production and safety.

Volunteers can, and often will, work tirelessly at the grindstone provided the structure and goals and administration has been set up and is maintained for them by their council or committee, yet without that structure, they will do noting.  So for this, or any other project requiring co-ordination, will only happen if the Council formalise, structure, initiate and promote it -- a lot of work for yet another group of volunteers who perhaps did not sign up for any such commitment when they took up their Guild Council roles.

At this stage then -- two questions ...

1.  Is this just a whim of perhaps one or two fired up individuals and will there be sufficient IGKT wide interest to achieve anything worth while?

Tentative answer -- it is impossible at this stage to know -- it is possibly a chicken and egg situation (much like this forum, no one knew it would be the success it is when it was first mooted).  Perhaps it will have to be judged on its potential to generate interest.

2.  Is there sufficient interest and support at Council level to create and promote the infrastructure.

Tentative answer -- from a new member perspective based on present activity, probably not, particularly as the answers to the first question would not indicate a ready groundswell of demand from present rank and file.  Perhaps this tentative answer poses a further question -- would the Council sanction the formation of a focus working group to formally evaluate the opportunities and requirements?

Coming at this from a different angle though, one might ask -- What unique input could the Guild possibly offer to the International studies on Khipu presently underway?  My personal response to this is based on my understanding that the Inca life was based on Farming, Fabric and Cordage.  The use of cordage was an integral part of Incan life and culture, so it should be no surprise that they utilised their fundamental tool (cordage) to drive their administration and management of the society.  In the twenty first century, very few people are closely attuned to cord and its manipulation.  Of those who are, a significant number may be found within the IGKT, many of us have cord inextricably wound into our lives -- our clothing, our tools, our safety and our adornments.  Generally, if we want to do something, we look first to cord and knots to do it for us (and usually that is sufficient).  After the materials and structure of the Khipu have been accurately described by practical knotters, then IGKT members could be expected to build their own Khipu with the goal of answering why given cords, knots etc. were used and how a khipu can and cannot be used.  The anthropologists already studying these artifacts might then get closer to their use in life by interrogating the IGKT Khipu users.

However, all this depends on knotters being able to get up close and personal with some samples of real Khipu, to be able to build up a library of detailed, high quality photographs and descriptions from a knotters perspective.  So perhaps the most fundamental question is -- is the chance of that even remotely likely to happen and how would we find this out?

DerekSmith

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Re: Khipu again
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2007, 07:06:26 PM »


Wow, your view or the e-world must be rosier than many!!  But, um, "24 inch" is belied by
at least current offerings--e.g. cf. www.eizo.com/products/lcd/l997/index.asp which
sizes it at 21.3".  !?  In any case, my, what a nice side-by-side complement that would be
for say a 20" or 24" iMac!  (Your rotational ability must be nice, i.p. for seeing full text pages.)

" ... single pixel to fullscreen dimensions":  for a study of hue?

--dl*
====


"No, no, I've got it wrong--get a better magnifying lense or monitor or tape measure  :o "

mea culpa.

I really must get a new tape measure that doesn't have a bit missing from the end.  Still, just makes for a bigger clot ....

Derek