The Runner’s Sandals
Las sandalias del Chasqui


Based on an Incan folktale, Hualachi was the fastest Incan messenger and the king’s favorite. One day, while running to deliver a message from the king, he stopped to help an old woman who had fallen and broken her leg. To repay his kindness, she gave him a pair of magic sandals. The king was unhappy that Hualachi had disobeyed him and he was no longer allowed to run and deliver messages. With the help of the magic sandals, Hualachi was able to win back the king’s favor.


The Runner’s Sandals is based on an Incan folktale. While there is definitely magic at work int he story, the job of a chasqui like Hualachi was very real in the Inca empire.

Chasquis were not just trained to run great distances but also to be experts in that art of communication. The quipis they carried, sometimes called “talking knots,” were ropes with many knotted strands hanging from them. As the Incas did not have an alphabet, quips served as a kind of reading and writing system.

Each knot most likely represented a number (though recent research suggests they may have represented sounds or words, too), and helped the chassis remember the details of their messages. The chassis could read and write information on the quipu, translate it, and pass on the rest by word of mouth. They played a very important role in Incan society, and with them gone, the quipus are surrounded in mystery.