Definitions for quipuˈki pu, ˈkwɪp u

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word quipu

Princeton's WordNet

  1. quipu(noun)

    calculator consisting of a cord with attached cords; used by ancient Peruvians for calculating and keeping records


  1. quipu(Noun)

    a recording device, used by the Incas, consisting of intricate knotted cords

  2. Origin: Quechua khipu (via Spanish)

Webster Dictionary

  1. Quipu(noun)

    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

  2. Origin: [Peruv. quipu a knot.]


  1. Quipu

    Quipus, sometimes called talking knots, were recording devices historically used in the region of Andean South America. A quipu usually consisted of colored, spun, and plied thread or strings from llama or alpaca hair. It could also be made of cotton cords. The cords contained numeric and other values encoded by knots in a base ten positional system. Quipus might have just a few or up to 2,000 cords. Archaeological evidence has shown that systems similar to the quipu were in use in the Andean region from c. 3000 BC. They subsequently played a key part in the administration of Tahuantinsuyu, the empire controlled by the Incan ethnic group, which flourished across the Andes from c. 1450 to 1532 AD. As the region was subsumed under the invading Spanish Empire, the use of the quipu faded from use, to be replaced by European writing systems. However, in several villages, quipu continued to be important items for the local community, albeit for ritual rather than recording use. Quipu is the Spanish spelling and the most common spelling in English. Khipu is the word for "knot" in Cusco Quechua; the kh is an aspirated k. In most Quechua varieties, the term is kipu.

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