VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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'Warazan', Ryukyuan Knotted Cords
K0003027
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Chosen and explained by Toshikazu SASAKI "The Cultures of North and South Japan". I introduce herewith a piece of material about the unpopular capitation tax which for a long time annoyed farm people in Ryukyu. I want you to think about the strong connections between the history of poll taxes imposed in Ryukyu, and the significant power of people on the Japanese main islands.

History of the Object
In addition to Japanese culture, the country had the Ainu culture in the north and the Ryukyu culture in the south of the Japanese archipelago.

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Type
Other 
Materials
straw, string and paper 
Measurements
various 
Creator name
Ryukyuan 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Miyako Island, Okinawa, Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 15th century ~ AD 17th century 
Creation date
15th Century - 17th Century 
Function
Ryukyuan knotted cords are a type of recording device where numeric values are encoded by knots on strings. This kind of device for recording numbers is widely found around the world, the most well-known being the quipu or khipu, used by the Incas of South America. The Ryukyuan knotted cords were used for head tax calculations, just as kaidā characters were. The forms varied depending on what was recorded, such as the number of taxable persons, the number of bags of rice, or the amount of cloth to be paid in tax. 
Acquisition
This object is from a collection by Antei TASHIRO, a well-known researcher on Ryukyuan culture, collected in the 19th century, owned by Tokyo University, then deposited to the National Museum of Ethnology, Japan (Minpaku) in 1975. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Tokyo University 
Museum
National Museum of Ethnology 
Credit line
 

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