from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A record-keeping device of the Inca empire consisting of a series of variously colored strings attached to a base rope and knotted so as to encode information, used especially for accounting purposes.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A recording device, used by the Incas, consisting of intricate knotted cords.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A contrivance employed by the ancient Peruvians, Mexicans, etc., as a substitute for writing and figures, consisting of a main cord, from which hung at certain distances smaller cords of various colors, each having a special meaning, as silver, gold, corn, soldiers. etc. Single, double, and triple knots were tied in the smaller cords, representing definite numbers. It was chiefly used for arithmetical purposes, and to register important facts and events.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A cord about 2 feet in length, tightly spun from variously colored threads, and having a number of smaller threads attached to it in the form of a fringe: used among the ancient Peruvians and elsewhere for recording events, etc.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. calculator consisting of a cord with attached cords; used by ancient Peruvians for calculating and keeping records
Really, the word quipu scarcely enters the English language at all, unlike quinine or the edible seed quinoa, which if its current popularity continues may well end up pronounced kwiNOa in English KEENwah is preferred for the time being.
It's possible that the majority of English speakers who know the word quipu pronounce it "kwipu", but most of them know it only as an obscure piece of historical trivia.
So far as known, the quipu was the only mnemonic system in use in Peru.
A quipu was a cord two feet long, composed of differently coloured threads twisted together, from which were hung a number of smaller threads, also differently coloured and tied in knots.
While the Inca developed a basic system of counting using bundled knotted strings known as quipu and an elaborate calendar, they did not use writing.
The "quipu," a knotted reckoning-cord, was in use in Peru and in China.
They did not have a written language; instead they used a cord with beads on it, called "quipu", used to record government business.
The Incas of Peru, before the Conquest, had a whole system of “writing” based on a variation of knots in colored strings, the “khipu” or “quipu.”
Have rural information systems - the Incan quipu, the Australian songline - had the same status as urban ones?
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