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Alvia Jane & the Family Tree - 40"x45" plus quipu & rocks


A quipu (or khipu) is a unique system expressed on a spatial array of colored knotted cords that was used to record and transmit information by cultures such as Huari (c.500-800 AD) and Inca (c. 1400-1535 AD) in pre-Columbian Peru. Both of the tapestries use some parts of this known format to add to the visual information of the works in different ways

The quipu used in the installation “Alvia Jane & Family Quipu” records the genealogy of the Disbrow and Martin families, which have each contributed genes to the woven portrait of Alvia Jane which started as a self portrait of the artist upon which upon completion she realized how much she resembled her mother as she aged. This quipu is read from the middle, starting with the only salmon and white combined cord (representing the artist). (maternal descendants) are on the left and (paternal) on the right. Direct male descendants are represented as white cords. Siblings of direct descendant males are represented in black for males and salmon for females. The two gold cords represent the artist’s grandmothers. The ply of each cord represents the gender of the ancestor, S plied for male and Z plied for female. Each generation is separated by a space on the main supporting cord. Each cord contains the year of birth and subsidiary cords contain the year of death. (Some cords have missing dates yet to be researched and are therefore blank) The dates are read from the top of the cord down and each knot represents a number. The digits are represented as a special looped knot. Quipus were often found accompanied by a group of black and white stones. It is believed that these rocks assisted in some form of binary language that helped the reader decipher the knots. The accompanying stones here have been collected from the property that has belonged to the Disbrow family for hundreds of years and now carry many of the names of the descendants.