The chasquis were the messengers of the Inca empire; they traveled the network of the Inca Trails at great speeds.
They were selected from children, which in addition to running very fast, they had to be very athletic and very resistant, since they had to cover great distances at great speeds doing messenger relief, without harming the rest of the team, since communication in the empire It depended on them.
The special training to which they were subjected, made their lungs develop a lot, in order to withstand long distances at great speeds. The Coca Leaf, a sacred thing of the Incas, helped the chasquis withstand the exhausting journeys. There were few people who were allowed to chew coca leaves, considered by the Incas as a divine plant.
The term chasqui comes from the Quechua chaskiq or chaskij, which means ‘he who receives and gives’, and this was precisely his work. The messages carried by the chasquis were encrypted in quipus; these contained official records, logistics information and other important information for the empire.
The Inca Empire crossed with its extraordinary advances, the history of humanity. Its official language, Quechua, is still spoken by some ten million people today. Among the key points that marked its importance was the construction of roads that crossed the continent. The Chaquis then emerged, like fast runners in charge of being the Inca’s messengers, bearers of news and orders from him.
The messengers of the Inca Empire became over time a very valuable figure for the expansion of the Inca domain. They were young people in good physical condition. Runners who were in charge of crossing the roads of the empire, with the aim of delivering messages, notices or orders to distant provinces. The term Chasquis is a word derived from Quechua, which means mail or relay person.
And it was precisely this way of working of the Chasquis. They ran towards the direction that had been indicated to them, and on the way they were to meet another of them, who took the message and continued another stretch of the road. These messengers of the Inca Empire not only had to be young, strong and resistant. They also had to develop other qualities, such as having an excellent memory. Many of the messages had to be memorized, repeating them several times out loud.
To achieve it in the relay, the Chasquis ran together a stretch of the way. When the second of them had managed to memorize the information, the other could stop and return to his starting point. They were also obliged to discretion and truthfulness, because if any of the Chasquis violated the secrecy of the message, hindered another or gave false news, he was punished with the death penalty.
The messengers of the Inca Empire crossed the longest roads on the continent with no other tool than the strength of their body. Precisely the expansion of the routes stood out among the main strengths of this civilization. The Incas knew how to use roads built by previous cultures and develop many new ones. Thus they created a sophisticated interconnection system between the most distant regions.
There were two main roads that linked the Empire. One of them crossed the mountains, from the south of Colombia, passing through Cuzco and Chile, until reaching Argentina. The second crossed the Pacific coast, reaching the south of the continent and going up to Cuzco through the Arequipa region. These roads were used for the transit of people, the transport of food and the trips of the army. In the same way, they were vital in the work of keeping the different areas that had been conquered communicated.
The roads, known in the Quechua language as Qhapac Ñan, connected the four suyus or imperial regions. Causeways linked the population of these areas. These were routes for official use, which were used by the messengers of the Inca Empire to transmit important messages from one region to another, and sometimes even small packages.
Fully aware of the importance of the figure of the Chasquis as messengers of the Inca, those in charge of the roads and highways of this civilization took every precaution to facilitate their work. The Inca workers not only worked stone in an outstanding way, through a resistant technique called pirca, which guaranteed the stability of the roads for centuries. They also included elements in the construction that facilitated transit and guaranteed safety.
On the paths that seemed to be at risk of avalanches, retaining walls were built to prevent them from being blocked and someone from suffering any damage traveling along them. The Incas also excelled in drainage systems. In the roads that crossed desert areas, canals were built on the edge of the roads. That way the Chasquis and other travelers could hydrate whenever they wanted. Similarly, a multitude of fruit trees were planted to offer food and shade to travelers.
The messengers of the Inca Empire were adding importance to their work during the time that this civilization was in control of much of Latin America. These imperial mail agents took on such strategic importance for the preservation of power and communications that their training took on strict and professional nuances. The Chasquis were heavily trained from childhood, so that they could perform their trade to perfection. They had to know in detail each of the roads and shortcuts, be able to cross them day or night and also be skilled swimmers.
There was also a spiritual component to the work of the Chasquis. They became the recipients of ancestral knowledge, which was transmitted to them by the wise elders, called Hamawta. They had to deliver this knowledge to the new relays, transmitting their knowledge in a hermetic way, preserving it from Western civilization. Added to their work was the function of spies for the Inca Empire, to discover the war strategies of other pre-Columbian peoples and overcome them on the battlefield.
The messengers of the Inca Empire were carriers of a series of instruments that defined them as such. In the first instance, the use of the Pututu was characteristic, a conch trumpet that they used to announce their arrival and alert their replacement. The use of quipus was also common, a series of knotted colored ropes, in which the precise official data that was wanted to be communicated was recorded. The ropes were of different colors and were braided with various kinds of knots that indicated quantities.
Wearing sandals, armed with a baton and a huaraca, carrying objects and packages on their backs, and wearing a plume of white feathers on their heads and a stick, the Chasquis, messengers of the Inca Empire, advanced through with the treasure of information, the mountains, sierras and plains of the American continent.