Quipu (Peru), Made between 1400–1532
This is a Quipu.
Long associated with the Inca, the quipu came to play an integral role in the expansion and administration of the Inca empire during the mid-fifteenth century. Consisting of a main cord and attached strings with knots, quipus were used as recording devices. They varied in size from main cords only 30 cm (1 ft.) long, with a few strings, to examples more than 1 m (1 yd.) long, with hundreds of strings. The knots on subsidiary strings represent decimal units, which recorded census information linked to the collection of taxes from local communities. Such taxes were imposed in the form of labor on public works, military duty, or service to administrators. Different color cords were common and helped the quipu keeper to recall the significance of the recorded numbers. Quipus were also used as memory aids by official historians and genealogists.
It is credited
Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, A365240.
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Its dimensions are
Primary cord length: 240 cm (7 ft. 10 1/2 in.); length of pendants about 40 cm (15 3/4 in.) to maximum of 58 cm (22 7/8 in.)
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.