Accepted paper:

"Ply Direction and Markedness in a 19th Century Khipu from Bolivia"


Sabine Hyland (University of St. Andrews)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation will analyze newly discovered data about a herder's khipu from Cutusuma, Bolivia, collected by Max Uhle in 1895.

Paper long abstract:

One of Tristan's Platt seminal articles analyzed the variable readings of a 16th century "chinu" or knotted cord record from the Charcas region of the Andes. In homage to Platt's pathbreaking work on knotted cord records from the Aymara speaking regions, this presentation will discuss newly discovered data about a khipu from Cutusuma, Bolivia, collected by Max Uhle in 1895. Previously unknown testimony from the Aymara speaking khipu maker recovered from Uhle's unpublished field notes, combined with the analysis of the actual khipu, reveals new information about how meaning was signified on khipus. Specifically, this new data provides the first direct evidence that ply direction was a signifying element on khipus. Moreover, the evidence suggests that ply direction signified through a principle of markedness in which S ply corresponded to the unmarked (more valued) category, while Z ply corresponded to the marked (less valued) category.

panel P18
The anthropology of connections: ethnography, archive and language in the work of Professor Tristan Platt