conclude with three overviews: a summary of findings, a re-
flection on whether they are relevant to Inka khipu studies, and a
return to the theoretical-methodological problem of how the ‘‘eth-
nography of writing’’ can help with decipherment of radically unfamiliar inscrip-
tive systems.
Findings: Quipocamayos in Their Village Context
Central Huarochirí, whose heroes were the protagonists of the 1608 Quechua book
of pre-Christian divinities, is one of the three areas known to have preserved into
modern times a political-civic khipu complex (as compared to herding and con-
fessional khipus, which exist elsewhere). The other two cases are Casta [Tello and
Miranda 1923] and Rapaz [Ruiz Estrada 1981]). Tupicocha village’s corporate de-
scent groups have inherited the names of the ancient ayllus, and they hold ten
patrimonial khipus as their regalia. Although this unread legacy remains unread,
its past and present uses reveal quite a bit about how the cord medium worked in
political institutions to reproduce the ongoing project of a segmented agropastoral
Today villagers curate but do not decipher or update cords. Nonetheless, field-
work does help attack ourcoreweaknesses with regard to khipus, namely, (1) igno-
rance of the semiotic and pragmatic means by which cord signs ‘‘hook into’’ so-
cial functions, and (2) lack of links between known specimens and known social
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