Captain Blackthorn grimaced against the salt air that sandblasted his face. His men were weary, his ship was falling apart and the hold was replete with treasures beyond counting. It was time to head home and enjoy the bounty that years at sea had brought them. As he braced himself against the pressing squall he considered the conundrum of converting said bounty into a transferable asset that could easily be spent without arousing suspicion of the local militia or the jealousy of rival pirates. If only large amounts of wealth could be represented on something as light and unobtrusive as a piece of paper. But then Blackthorn had a idea:
"I know what we'll do! We'll bury it!…"
The size and number of knots in hair, tied around neck, or hanging from belt could signify family, importance, worship, guild affiliations. Being able to translate the meaning of the size and placement of knots can give you a a large understanding of who somebody is.
May be used in a more barbaric society. Where in cities peoples clothes and crests show who they are, barbarians have no need for this so use knots.