Quipu, Writing with Textiles

Composed of strings spun from llama wool and alpaca, quipu have the appearance of flamboyant ornaments destined to adorn the elites of Incan society. However, in reality they are complex writing systems developed principally by Incan and pre-Columbian civilizations to store numerary data.
Various colored strings are interconnected by a main rope upon which nodes have been created to be able to calculate numbers. In Quechua, the most common language of the Incan Empire, quipu means both node and account.
Lacking writing as it is understood by Western sensibilities, ancient Peruvian civilizations used quipus for accounting purposes related to economics and demographics. The quipu systems were developed quite early in pre-Colombian history: the Caral civilization has quipus dating from 3000 BC. During the period of the Incan Empire, they were employed by the government to keep track of community development and allow for the economic and social management of the empire. Today, this system has all but disappeared, replaced by the European writing systems following the arrival of Spanish conquistadors.
Quipu have not yet yielded all of their secrets! Recent studies uncovered that quipu could also potentially register other types of data beyond numbers. Certain research has proven that quipu can function as rectangular coordinate systems able to learn the positions of stars, and Frank Solomon of the University of Wisconsin has deciphered the first word from a quipu: puruchuco, the name of a city — demonstrating that quipu, far from a simple decorative textile technique, is a system of language and a cipher of diverse knowledges.

Quipu - From Meyers Konversationslexikon of 1888
Meyers Konversationslexikon of 1888