Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


The khipu or quipu were recording devices used used in the Inka empire and its predecessor societies in the Andean region

The term khipu is an orthographic rendering of the Quechua word for "knot". A khipu usually consists of colored cotton cords with numeric values perhaps encoded by knots in the base-10 positional system. The khipu have yet to be deciphered, and there are a variety of theories as to how much information they contain. Some have argued that far more than numeric information is present and that the khipu are a primitve written language. This is especially important as there is no surviving record of a written Incan language, something which is extremely rare for such an advanced civilization.

Use of the khipu was suppressed after the early 16th century conquest of the Inka empire by the Spanish conquistadors, and most of them were destroyed. Today only 600 Incan khipu survive. More primitive uses of the khipu have also continued in the Peruvian highlands.\n