Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Inca Quipus Craft

Last week during our study of the Inca culture the kids made an Inca Quipus. If you are not familiar with what a quipus I will try to give a brief explanation.

It's basically a system of knotted cords to store massive amounts of information. Kinda of an ancient inventory list. The cords are colored and knotted. They are spaces between the cords, and certain types of knots. For example, a yellow strand might represent maize; or on a population quipus the first set of strands represented men, the second set women, and the third set children. Weapons such as spears, arrows, or bows were similarly designated.

Quipus were knotted ropes using a positional decimal system. A knot in a row farthest from the main strand represented one, next farthest ten, etc. The absence of knots on a cord implied zero.

What you need:
A stick (I used a larger craft stick)
Lots of different colored strings and yarn
Elmer's glue

1. First wrap yarn around the stick and glue the ends to keep it from slipping off.
2. Next tie varies types of string and yarn on the stick. Space them apart at different increments. Start on one end with the longest and then go to the shortest length.
3. Have the kids think about what they want to take an inventory of.
4. Start tying knots.

 Little Man's inventory consisted of how many Imaginex airplanes he had, knight armor, knight's weapons, and cowboy guns. Yep, he is a boy.
A tangled mess for my little Bug. Mom had to help her out a lot. She had fun and didn't get frustrated!
 Bug's quipus consisted of how many stuffed animal lady bug's she owned, how many bugs are pinned for her entomology collection(which she realized she couldn't tie that many knots), how many people are in our family, and dogs.


  1. What a great idea for an Indian craft. We haven't studied Indians yet since we are living in the UK but once we move back home in a year we will be doing this. Thanks for the great idea:) I am following back. Loved looking thru your blog


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