Quipu: Counting with knots in the Inka Empire – 2003
- Record-keeping with knots
- The quipu and writing
- Tawantinsuyu , the Inka Empire
- The Quipu, and the needs of an empire
- Quipus and tribute
- Basic parts of a Quipu
- Making a Quipu
- Quipus and numerical values
- Narrative Quipus?
- Los distintos usos del Quipu
- Quipu of Arica
- Quipucamayoc , Lord of the Knots
- Quipus in the colonial era
- To know more about Quipus
- Crédits and acknowledgements
Hierarchy and social organization of the Inca Empire.
Graphic interpretation of the Inka hierarchy from ‘ordenanzas’ and the social organization of the Empire described by the indigenous chronicler Guaman Poma de Ayala . In red titles, the authorities who use or carry quipus. Realization, C. Sinclaire & F. Gallardo.
Suyuyoc, Administrator of Provinces or suyus. “Keeps the accounts of the community”. Drawing, Guamán Poma de Ayala .
Royal Council, Tawantin Suyo camachicoc apocana: “Main Lords from the four suyus, viceroys and princes”. Drawing, Guamán Poma de Ayala .
Secretary to the Inka. Yncap cimin quipococ, “Who take account of the words of the Inka”. Drawing, Guamán Poma de Ayala .
Senior Record-Keeper and Tresaurer. Tawantin Suyo runa quipoc Yncap. “Who keeps the account and hacienda of the Tawantin Suyo” . Drawing, Guamán Poma de Ayala .
Quipus and tribute
As a tribute from its subjects, the Inka State demanded not money or goods, but labor. The organization of this state labor service, or mit’a, was based on the coordination of work shifts performed by groups of tribute payers who were organized in decimal hierarchical work groups. At a local level, groups of 10 tribute-paying households were joined together to form basic work groups for state projects. Five groups of 10 tribute payers were combined to produce a unit of 50 households. Throughout the administrative hierarchy, the basic organizational principles were the pairing of five-part decimal work units – that is, 50, 500, and 5,000 – to produce, respectively, work groups of 100 (pachaca), 1,000 (waranqa), and 10,000 (huno) families or households.
The Inka administrative systems were organized in this hierarchical fashion to supervise and record the work of the state laborers. At every level of supervision and coordination, the administrative officials maintained up-to-date quipu records of the tribute payers in their charge. Thus, there were small and large quipus, each reflecting the size of its corresponding state labor group .
Owing to its structure and types of recording units, the quipu was ideally suited to registering information in a decimal hierarchical format.