The Inca civilization did not have a written language, instead they relied on an intricate means of recording different types of information. Accounts, history, stories, poems, astrological information were kept on a device known as a Khipu. Through pattern variations, dyeing, spinning and plying of strings as well as the different types, number and positions of knots, the number of soldiers and captives, every birth, or the age of each man, woman and child was represented. The Khipu documented marriages, deaths, laws, ceremonial practices, economic transactions, size of various crops and wares in the ruler’s storehouse.
Although they have not been deciphered, during the Spanish era the Inca conquerors claimed they came to
understand the meaning and purpose of these complex woven records.
In early 1600 the head of the Jesuit order in Peru reported that the native people used Khipu to record their sins so they would remember them for confession. Certain colors of string came to represent the type of sin. For instance, red for sexual sin; black for killing someone; vivid orange-red stood for thievery; yellow for hypocrisy and white, a venial sin. Some added stones, bones, feathers and other natural material as symbols of the sins committed.