Code of the Quipu “Colors” – Pre Columbian textiles: Part II

Inca Quipu

Inca Quipu

I did some more digging and found information on the colors that makes up  Khipu or Quipu ~ Pre-Columbian textile. A Peruvian, Inca method of keeping inventory and history pre-written language. I was under the paradigm that the 24 colors of the strings (yarn) were made up of 24 different colors. I now understand that there may have only been six different colors and the other eighteen were combinations created during spinning these six different colors.

My digging lead me to Code of the Quipu A study in Media, Mathematics, and Culture by Marcia Ascher and Robert Ascher. It is a reference book on their findings and even tells you how to make a Quipu. I have to say I glanced at this last section. There was a whole lot of detail. Not a 2nd grade class art project!  So if you want more details….check out the book.

A Study in Media, Mathematics, and Culture

A Study in Media, Mathematics, and Culture

I haven’t (as of yet) found any information on the dyeing process. On to the color for now: Each cord has a color. Color is a part of the quipu’s symbolism. Each quipu’s colorcode relates some cords together and sets others apart. Let’s start with the six individual colors. Take a combination of two solid colors and spin them together with an S twist, giving a “candy cane” effect. Two “candy canes” twisted together using a Z twist gives a mottled effect. Different solid color cords could be joined so part of the cord was one color and the other half was another. What I might call a bar effect, they call joining. Using 6 colors and the various candy cane, mottling and joining effects, allows for a large number of distinctly different colors.

I will continue to look for information on the dyeing process of the six colors. So  stay tuned to a possible part three. If anyone has any information or is able to send me in the right direction,  I would appreciate a heads up.


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