Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv

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Brothers Kyi, Shchek, Khoryv and their sister Lybid

Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv (Ukrainian: Кий, Щек, Хорив) are the three legendary brothers, sometimes mentioned along with their sister Lybid (Ukrainian: Либідь), who, according to the Primary Chronicle,[1] were the founders of the medieval city of Kyiv – now the capital of Ukraine. The legend is widely recognized as a source of Kyiv's mythology and urban naming.[citation needed]

Historical background for the legend[edit]

Archaeological excavations have shown there indeed was an ancient settlement from the 6th century. Some speculate that Kyi was a real person, a knyaz (prince) from the tribe of Polans. According to legend, Kyi was a Polianian Prince, and the city was named after him, the eldest brother.[2]

There are numerous different theories concerning the origin of the names; among the most popular is that legend of three brothers and their sister is an attempt to explain the local names. Kyi appears to be derived from Slavic kij or kiy, which means "bat". Shchek and Khoryv, according to this theory, represent the actual Shchekavytsia and Khorevytsia mountains in the center of Kyiv, while Lybid is the actual river, a right tributary of the Dnieper and an important landscape factor in the city. Lybid means "swan" in Slavic. Goddess Zorya (Danica) was identified with white swan, white bird.[citation needed]

Modern tributes[edit]

The sculpture of Kyiv founders depicted on Ukraine's interim bank note in 1990s.

In addition to the respective hills and the river, there are Shchekavytska and Khoryva Streets in Kyiv's ancient neighborhood of Podil.

In 1982, Kyi, Shchek, Khoryv and Lybid were depicted (standing on an ancient riverboat) in a sculpture at the river-side of Navodnytsky Park. The monument, created by Vasyl Borodai, soon became iconic for the city and has been used as Kyiv's unofficial emblem. In the 2000s another statue was installed at the central square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "An Armenian historian of the seventh century, Zenob Glak, knew of a similar legend concerning the founding of the city of Kuar (Kyiv) in the land of Poluni (Polianians) by three brothers Kuar, Mentery, and Kherean." [in:] Medieval Rus' epics, chronicles, and tales. 1974; "Similarly to Nestor's story about Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv, the Armenian legend of Kuar and his brothers says (in the 6th or in the 7th century). [in:] Киев, анциент анд модерн киты. 1983
  2. ^

External links[edit]