In July 2015, we had been crammed as a stuffy minivan with 12 other people, climbing away from Lima’s seaside mist in to the sun-filled hills large number of foot above. After hours of dirt clouds and hairpin that is dizzying, our location showed up below—the remote Andean town of San Juan de Collata, Peru. It had been a scattering of adobe homes without any running water, no sewage, and electricity just for a few domiciles. The number of hundred inhabitants with this community talk a type of Spanish greatly affected by their ancestors’ Quechua. Coming to the town felt like stepping into another globe.
My husband and I invested our very first few hours in Collata making formal presentations towards the town officers, asking for authorization to analyze two uncommon and valuable things that the city has guarded for centuries—bunches of twisted and colored cords called khipus. A middle-aged herder named Huber Braсes Mateo, brought over a colonial chest containing the khipus, along with goat-hide packets of 17th- and 18th-century manuscripts—the secret patrimony of the village after dinner, the man in charge of the community treasures. We’d the honor that is tremendous of the initial outsiders ever permitted to see them.
On the next couple times, we might discover that these multicolored khipus, all of that is simply over 2 legs long, were narrative epistles developed by regional chiefs during an occasion of war when you look at the eighteenth century. Continue reading