How Khipus Encoded Labour Obligations

Mesias Pumajulka, grandson of last khipu expertFor those interested in knotted cords and ancient writing systems, please check out my newly published article in the Journal of Material Culture, “How Khipus Indicated Labour Obligations in an Andean Village: An Explanation of Colour Banding, Seriation and Ethnocategories”. This describes my latest research into the khipus that were used in Huarochiri province, Peru, until the 1940s, including interviews with Mecias Pumajulka, the grandson of the last khipu expert in Anchucaya. It’s now published and available on JStor! For those of you without access to JStor, you can read a pre-publication version on the St Andrews research portal:

5 replies
  1. Joseph Lanctot
    Joseph Lanctot says:

    Hello, I have been following the research of khipus since I heard about them years ago., and elated (and the awkward guy in the room) when I came across Urton’s article Toward the Decipherment of a Set of Mid-Colonial Khipus found in the Santa Valley, Peru. He cited you in the work, and now I’ve spent the whole morning reading through your material. Amazing! I was able to access this publication through my university website and am spending my day off reading it. All the best to you, and good luck.

    • Sabine Hyland
      Sabine Hyland says:

      Dear Joseph, Thanks so much for the kind comments! Gary is a good friend; in fact, he’s hosting a khipu symposium at Bard University on February 1. I’ll be there along with some great khipu scholars — it will be open to the public so if you’re in NYC, please come.

      Happy Holidays!

  2. Patrick McDonnell
    Patrick McDonnell says:

    I tried accessing the pre-publication version of your article but the link took me to a St. Andrews log-in screen. Is the article still available?



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