Definition of quipu in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkēpo͞o/ /ˈkipu/ /ˈkwipo͞o/ /ˈkwɪpu/


  • An ancient Inca device for recording information, consisting of variously colored threads knotted in different ways.

    ‘The quipus of the ancient Incas of Peru encoded a wide range of data about people, land, and crops for the government bureaucracy.’
    • ‘These runners carried oral messages, small packages, or quipus (Incan counting devices made from strings with a series of knots in them) from village to village and from the capital to all parts of the empire.’
    • ‘The Inca, who had no written language, used the quipu - a device made of a series of strings with colored knots - to record census findings and tallies of animal herds and other resources.’
    • ‘Remember that the Incas had no written records and so the quipu played a major role in the administration of the Inca empire since it allowed numerical information to be kept.’
    • ‘I wonder whether there might be lessons in the Incan calendar and quipus.’
    • ‘We now know the quipu for just what it was in prehistoric times… simply an instrument for recording numbers.’


From Quechua khipu ‘knot’.