Quipu or Khipu…

I freelance for a software company that produces products for speech therapy and learning disabilities. I am currently making my way through a database of words to be included in some apps.

I collect words and phrases to use in my work. I integrate them by using Morse and Tap Code. The code isn’t straight forward I refer to the code by substituting color, a variety of knots or stitches, and metal or plant bits.

When I ran across the word quipu I liked the visual structure of the word. According to Wikipedia, “Quipus (or khipus), sometimes called talking knots, were recording devices historically used in the region of Andean South America.”

The image is from the wikipedia site. Can you see the code?


I find the piece visually beautiful. But it is so much more. I recently listened to a Richard Feynman recording in which he discussed the difference in the way people appreciate nature. When I view the example of Quipu I think that it is lovely as an artifact, then I wonder how does the fiber feel and smell, what kind of fiber was used, how were the knots made, how has the work survived… And after thinking about those qualities I think about the context. Then I view the piece differently, but I still find it quite beautiful.

For more information-


Frank Salomon Pages, Dept. of Anthropology University of Wisconsin

Gary Urton & Carrie Brezine, Khipu Database Project

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