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Yupana is an Incan counting device similar to an abacus.


How to use the Yupana

The beads are organized in columns, where the units (1s) column is farthest to the right; tens (10s) is second from the right; hundreds (100s) is third from the right, etc.

Click on a dot and it will reverse its state (color), and either add or substract value from that column.

More details regarding the history and use of the Yupana can be found here:

Yupana como herramienta pedagogica.pdf

  • Did you know that you can use the yupana over the network with your friends?

An alternative interpretation

There are some alternative interpretations of how the Yupana works, e.g., [1]. In this version, the base is 20, and rows with multiple dots are counted as 2s.

Yet another interpretation (by the author) is that the factor of each bead is based on the number of beads in its containing box, e.g., each bead in the top row, x1; in the second row, x2; in the third row, x3; and in the bottom row, x5.

Both of these alternative interpretations are available under the "spanner" toolbar beginning with Version 3.


As of Version 4, the learner can explore their own interpretations of how the Yupana works.


In the above example, the beads are valued as 1x, 2x, 6x, and 24x with a base of 144. This is arguably the most efficient representation.

Where to get Yupana

The Yupana activity is available for download from the Sugar activity portal: Yupana

The source code is available on the Sugar Labs Gitorious server.