The Cord Keepers: Khipus And Cultural Life In A Peruvian Village (Latin America Otherwise)
Frank SalomonISBN: 0822333902;
None of the world's "lost writings" has proven more perplexing than the mysterious code in which the Inka Empire kept its records. Ancient Andean peoples encoded knowledge in knotted cords of cotton or wool called khipus. In The Cord Keepers, the distinguished anthropologist Frank Salomon breaks new ground with a close ethnography of one Andean village where villagers have surprisingly conserved a set of these enigmatic cords to the present day. Their "quipocamayos," as they call them, form a sacred patrimony. Keying his reading to the internal life of the ancient kin groups that own the khipus, Salomon suggests that the multicolored cords, with their knots and lavishly woven ornaments, may not have mimicked speech as most systems of writing do, but may instead have been anchored in non-verbal codes. The Cord Keepers makes a compelling argument for a close intrinsic link between rituals and visual sign-systems. It indicates that while Andean graphic representation may differ radically...