The Textile Museum Journal: Indigenous Knotted-Cord Records in Costa Rica

Several long, knotted cords laid vertically next to one another
Talamanca census, detail of numbered pendant cords; Bribri, Talamanca region, Costa Rica; 1873-1874. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Museum Support Center NMNH E1543. Donated by William Gabb, 1874.


As a part of our online interview series for The Textile Museum Journal, contributing scholars Scott Palumbo and Keilyn Rodríguez Sánchez will take part in a discussion with guest editor Jeffrey C. Splitstoser.

Dr. Palumbo and Dr. Sánchez will present evidence for the use of knotted-cord records in southern Costa Rica, an area virtually unknown for its use of knotted-cord record keeping. They will bring an anthropological perspective to their review of ethnohistorical sources and interviews with elders, who describe the structure and mathematical functions of knotted-cord records that were used decades earlier. The authors present this rich ethnographic material, consisting of knotted-cord devices from Costa Rica, and compare it to Andean “khipus” (knotted-cord devices used for record keeping).

About The Textile Museum Journal

Our peer-reviewed journal is the leading publication for the exchange of textile scholarship in North America. Published each fall, it features research on the cultural, technical, historical and aesthetic significance of textiles from all around the world. Learn more about the journal

About Scott Palumbo

Scott Palumbo received a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh in anthropology. He primarily works as an archaeologist in southern Costa Rica and western Panama on issues related to social complexity. He is currently a professor and chair of anthropology at the College of Lake County in northern Illinois.

About Keilyn Rodríguez Sánchez

Keilyn Rodríguez Sánchez holds a doctorate in education from the University of Costa Rica. She works broadly with Indigenous populations in Costa Rica on themes related to ethnography, museum studies, family socialization and education. At the University of Costa Rica, she is a professor in the School of Anthropology, director of graduate studies in anthropology and an investigator within the Center of Anthropological Research.

How to Participate

This program will take place on Zoom. To participate, please register online, and we will email you a link and instructions for joining. Simply follow that link at the time the program starts (12 p.m. EST / 9 a.m. PST). When you register, you can also request to receive a reminder email one day before the program with the link included.

About the Series

In this virtual series, authors who contributed to volume 49 of The Textile Museum Journal discuss new research on mathematics and textiles with guest editor Jeffrey C. Splitstoser. Browse all interviews