Quipu, [before 1600].

Visual material
1 item (a fifty-one strand Inca quipu) ; 78 x 101 cm.


[before 1600].
Linking notes
Forms part of the Princeton Mesoamerican Collection (C0940).
Summary note
The only known form of pre-Columbian "writing" in South America is the Incan quipu. Incan clerks, known as quipucamayo, were trained to record and translate these quipus as "memoranda or registers made from strands of cord, in which different knots and colors signify different things. It is incredible what they have comprehended in this way, for what books can say of histories, laws, ceremonies, and business accounts... is provided very precisely by the quipu," wrote a Spanish colonial observer. This 51-strand quipu is typical of surviving examples, which date from the 13th and 16th centuries.
Source acquisition
Gift of Gerard B. Lambert, ca. 1975.
Publications about
Elizabeth P .Benson "The Quipu: 'Written' Texts in Ancient Peru." Princeton University Library Chronicle 37, no. 1 (1975). pp. 11-23.
Cite as
Princeton Mesoamerican Manuscripts, no. 5, Manuscripts Division, Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.
Other format(s)
Also available in an electronic version.
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Supplementary Information