Early Colonial Khipu

In-Khipu Tour

MALI, Museo de Arte de Lima

Khipu from UNMSM collection (16th-17th Century) by Inca CultureMALI, Museo de Arte de Lima

Khipus played a key role in the development of Andean societies from pre-Hispanic times.

The Wari khipu system was inherited by the Incas, who adapted and disseminated them in their process of imperial expansion. Inca khipus feature a main cord with pendant strings from which secondary strings may be hung, and these, in turn, may bear other auxiliary strings.   

Following the Conquista, the cord-based record-keeping system remained in use, and was gradually assimilated by the new colonial administration, including the Church.    

During the Colonial Period, the use of color, twists, and the orientation of knots remained in use, as well as the system for securing subsidiary cords to the main cord. 

The radiocarbon dating of this specimen, which situates it between 1622 to 1664 AD, confirms that khipu remained in use during colonial times.

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