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QUIPU - THE ART OF KNOTTING

By Trenzando Fuerzas, a Peruvian women artists' network, and women's circle from MigrArte Perú


What is QUIPU?


In ancient Peru, at the time of the Incas, the quipu was the basic means of communication in an empire that lacked an alphabet. The quipu (a kind of knot script) was a form of communication and memory as well as a system and network of knowledge and identity. The quipu thus represents for us a creative form of making connections between different kinds of memory culture and intertwining them with each other. We want to create new connections that transcend distances, times, latitudes and languages and make us one big fabric that connects us and makes us sisters. How do you use the technique concretely and what your objectives through using it ?


We transfer knowledge related to memory culture in Peru, learning more about a prehispanic instrument called Quipu. We want to facilitate an intercultural exchange between women from the South (Peru) and the North (Berlin-Pankow) to design a transnational Quipu by implementing of a series of 'storytelling' events with women living in Pankow (with and without migration history) to design a Pankow quipu from an ecofeminist, de-colonial and intercultural perspective. The aim is to promote an intercultural exchange between (politically) active women and refugee women from different countries and different backgrounds. Create connections through long-term activities.



Is it a practice that is being used by other organisations too?


There was one workshop using quipu technique in England in 2017 hosted by a researcher and software artist Alex McLean https://penelope.hypotheses.org/332


How and where the practice has been organised?

Through a Storytelling series and talks: We weave our memories that was followed by four online workshops with "Trenzando Fuerzas. Finally, there was an exhibition in the auditorium of the "Kultur- und Bildungszentrum Sebastian Haffner"/ "Bibliothek am Wasserturm" Berlin



What materials and tools are needed if someone is interested to set up a QUIPU workshop?



Cotton or wool strings of different colours and ropes.



Are the any useful sources to learn more about how to use the technique ?


There are some sources for background reading on the net about the techniques and different artists using it :




How long does a workshop take?



Workshops last 2 hours each. Realistically it’s minimum a 3 months long project with up to 10 participants.




How many participants can be involved ideally?


Up to 10 participants put an online option allows more people to participate and to learn the technique.





How are these results promoted?



The project is actively presented in local festivals. There is a flyer and a website too:



For what further purposed could this practice be used ?


One can think of using this method in educational project involving coding and mathematics that may attract teenagers and men as well. This method can be readapted to any age group. One can describe this method as a method of communication and suggest creating the group's own language. Difficulty can vary depending on the group demand. This method can help to facilitate both communication within a group of people regardless of age and connection within the group via common fun activity.


It’s a very unusual activity that does not demand pre-existing skill set therefore, it looks attractive.

Handwork and group handwork also stimulates conversations.


It can be creatively adapted to be applied in different fields like maths, coding, literature, history, art, chemistry (if we use dyes to change colours of the strings for example). So it can be used in educational practices. And it can also be applied as a communication facilitator.


Are there any risks or difficulties one should take into consideration when using the technique?


Quipu can be quite complicated technique to understand , requiring an expert to explain how to use it. Workshops require time that may not be available for certain settings. Refugees may not stay at the same shelter for a long time, organisation may not get enough funds to pay honorary for a long period of time If we talk about developing a language, it takes time and effort from a group facilitator.


Further readings about QUIPU technque:








/TR%C3%8DPTICO%20MARITA%20Corregido.pdf - (Flyer to download DE/ES)














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