The History Of Quipu Quipu is a set of cords and knots tied together, most of them were made of cotton and dyed in one or more colors. Each of the pendants and the knots tied on it represented numbers and the colors had their own representatives. It was invented by Incas for the purpose of recording and accounting. The following paragraphs will cover the positive and negative aspects of quipu and the difference between the communication systems of the western civilization, for example writing. Some of the positive aspects of quipu are, firstly, they were used to store information, for example, the output of gold mines *1*, the amount and kinds of tribute gave by other tribes or the result of a census were all recorded on quipus.
Secondly, they can be read in horizontal direction therefore they have timeliness of before and after. They can be read vertically so terms like below and above can also apply. Thirdly, Cords on quipu can be moved until the last knot is fixed into position, so they are flexible to adjust mistakes. Fourthly, they are easy to preserve, as they won’t wear out as easy as paper. Fifthly, they are in three-dimensional form, which means the making of the quipu involves greater tactile sensitivity *2* than other kind of communications for example writing.
Lastly, as it may be the most important aspect of quipu, they predated and help created the coming of the civilization of Incas. There are some negative aspects of quipu too. Firstly they have limitation in meanings, which means the cords and knots represent numbers only, they cannot be used to convey complex thoughts. Secondly, the making of quipus is complicated compared to writing. They need specific skills and also take a while to train of quipumaker as there are hundreds of color vocabulary and different styles of knotting. Thirdly, quipu cannot record things as fast as writings.
Compared to modern writing by brush, pencil or pen, quipus take a period of time to complete as a whole record. *1* Crowley D. Heyer P. 1999 Communication in History page 30 *2* Crowley D. Heyer P.
1999 Communication in History page 35 The differences between writing and quipu are, firstly, writings are in two-dimensional form, they are recorded on planar surfaces *3*. Quipus are recorded in construction, which are in three-dimensional form. As already analyzed above, they involve a sense of touch in a greater degree. Secondly, the purposes of these two forms of communications are different, writing is a system of graphic symbols that can be used to express and convey any or all thought. They are often used for propaganda *4*, recording, predicting, identifying and accounting purposes while quipu has limitation in conveying meanings as it is only a form of counting and recording. Thirdly, writing involved filling the space continuously in the direction from left to right or up to down *5*, they are to say in a linear composition. In contrast, quipu was nonlinear.
It had no definite direction and space when connecting, but when the strings were attached, the space became defined. Lastly, writing is a more convenient form of communication than quipu as space can be expanded by adding more papers or sheets if needed, mistakes can be adjusted easier by rubbing out the unwanted words and they are lighter and easier to carry. Writing as a modern way of communication is a more advanced and convenient way to exchange thoughts. The invention of writing brought the human civilization into a higher state which makes quipu a unfamiliar term to people as no one use them anymore. *3* Crowley D. Heyer P.
1999 Communication in History page 35 *4* Crowley D. Heyer P. 1999 Communication in History page 37~40 *5* Crowley D. Heyer P. 1999 Communication in History page 35 History Essays.