Published July 20, 2017 | Version v1
Journal article Open

Coding with Knots

  • 1. Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf | RSH Düsseldorf Institute for Music and Media Düsseldorf
  • 2. FoAM Kernow, Cornwall


In this paper we explore new ways to approach understanding of the mysterious Precolumbian quipus, using both visual and sonic interpretations. We base our investigation on the Harvard Quipu Archive, starting with graphical visualisation techniques that give us an overall view so we can compare textile structures and perform basic cryptanalysis. We use listening and sonification in order to filter and compare the different modes of data representation (knot type, colour, twist and material). This provides new ways to explore both currently understood and unknown patterns of meaning in quipus.

This is the open-access author’s version of a closed access article published by Taylor and Francis in TEXTILE: Journal of Cloth and Culture, May 2017. It is shared under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license, with doi: 10.5281/zenodo.1098248.


This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, under Grant AH/M002403/1 (Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves).



Files (1.8 MB)

Name Size Download all
1.8 MB Preview Download

Additional details

Related works

Is new version of
10.1080/14759756.2017.1298307 (DOI)


PENELOPE – A study of weaving as technical mode of existence 682711
European Commission