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[kee-poo, kwip-oo] /ˈki pu, ˈkwɪp u/
a device consisting of a cord with knotted strings of various colors attached, used by the ancient Peruvians for recording events, keeping accounts, etc.
1695-1705; < Spanish < Quechua khipu Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for quipu


/ˈkiːpuː; ˈkwɪpuː/
a device of the Incas of Peru used to record information, consisting of an arrangement of variously coloured and knotted cords attached to a base cord
Word Origin
C17: from Spanish quipo, from Quechua quipu, literally: knot
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for quipu

ancient Inca recording device using knotted cords, 1704, from Quechua quipu "knot."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for quipu


an Incan accounting apparatus consisting of a long rope from which hung 48 secondary cords and various tertiary cords attached to the secondary ones. Knots were made in the cords to represent units, tens, and hundreds; and, in imperial accounting, the cords were differently coloured to designate the different concerns of government-such as tribute, lands, economic productivity, ceremonies, and matters relating to war and peace. The quipus were created and maintained as historical records and were kept not only by high officials at the capital of Cuzco-judges, commanders, and important heads of extended families-but also by regional commanders and village headmen.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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