Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv
Kyi, Shchek, Khoryv and Lybid are establishing the city of Kiev. by Artur Orlyonov

Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv (Ukrainian: Кий, Щек, Хорив [ˈkɪj ˈʃtʃɛk xoˈrɪu̯]; Old East Slavic: Кыи, Щекъ, Хоривъ) are three legendary brothers often mentioned along with their sister Lybid (Ukrainian: Либідь [ˈlɪbidʲ]; Old East Slavic: Лыбѣдь), who, according to the Primary Chronicle,[1] were the founders of the medieval city of Kiev, now the capital of Ukraine. There is no precise and historically established information about rule of Kyi and establishment of the city of Kyiv.[2] Many historians consider as truthful the existence of Kyi and his princely rule around the 6th century.[2] Among such historians are Boris Rybakov, Dmitry Likhachov, Aleksey Shakhmatov, Alexander Presnyakov, Petro Tolochko, Nataliia Polonska-Vasylenko, and others.[2]

The legend is widely recognized as a source of Kievan mythology and urban naming.[citation needed]

Historical background[edit]

In the Primary Chronicle which is traditionally believed to have been written by a monk of Kiev Cave Monastery by the name of Nestor and finished in 1113, a special place is held by the legend about the foundation of Kiev by three brothers.[2] In the legend, Nestor places those brothers onto various hills of Kyiv.[2] Geographically, the old Kiev is located on a higher right bank of Dnieper which is an extension of the Dnieper Upland where remnants of the Church of the Tithes are located.

The chronicle further states that there were people ("who did not know what were saying") who considered Kyi a mere ferryman.[2] But, then it argues that Kyi as a prince of his gens was visiting Czargrad and received great honors from the Emperor.[2] Dmitry Likhachov combined attestations of the Nikon Chronicle which also indicates that Kyi with a great army marched onto Czargrad and received great honors from the Emperor.[2] During his expedition to Constantinople, Kyi also found a city of Kyivets on the Danube.[2]

Nestor also names the approximate date of the assault on Kiev by the Khazar Empire as "after the death of Kyi" which confirms the hypothesis of Boris Rybakov, 6th-7th centuries.[2] In his chronicle Nestor does not indicate the date of Kyi's death nor the existence or absence of his heirs who continued to rule after his death.[2] The chronicle does mention a meeting between local residents with the arrived Askold and Dir who asked them referring to Kiev, whose city it was and received the answer that the three brothers who built it were long dead and the residents now paid tribute to the Khazars.[2] However, the Polish historian Jan Długosz drew attention to the Przemysł Chronicle that asserts "after the death of Kyi, Shchek, and Khoryv their children and grandchildren who descended from them by direct lineage ruled for many years".[2]

Also, the Primary Chronicle indicates that the Byzantine Empire knew the land around of Kiev as Rus land no later than 852 CE before appearance of Rurik who was also of Rus people (Varangian nation).

Excerpt from the Russian Primary Chronicles[edit]

Translation by Dmitry Likhachov[edit]

Translation by Samuel Hazzard Cross[edit]

Archaeological excavations[edit]

Graphic depiction of archaeological excavations in Kiev by Vikentiy Khvoyka

Archaeological excavations have shown that there was indeed an ancient settlement starting with the 6th century. Some speculate that Kyi was a real person, a knyaz (prince) from the tribe of the Polans. According to legend, Kyi, the eldest brother, was a Polianian Prince, and the city was named after him.[6]. As well, the legend says that the appearance of a large city on the hilly banks of the Dnieper was predicted by Andrew the Apostle.

Historiographical interpretation[edit]

This legend is similar to an Armenian transcript from the 7th-8th century, in which Khoryv is mentioned as Horean.[7] Khoryv or Horiv, and his oronym Khorevytsia, some scholars related to the ethnonym of White Croats.[7][8][9] Paščenko related his name, beside to the Croatian ethnonym, also to solar deity Hors.[9] Near Kiev there is a stream where previously existed a large village named Horvatka or Hrovatka (it was destroyed in the time of Joseph Stalin), which flows into Stuhna River.[10]

Modern tributes[edit]

The sculpture of Kiev founders
The sculpture of Kiev 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 Kiev'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 Kiev'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 (Kiev) 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:] Київ, анциент анд модерн киты. 1983
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Oleh Yastrubov. "And gave it its name Kyiv". Newspaper "Den". 14 July 2006.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Malyckij, Oleksandr (2006). "Hrvati u uvodnom nedatiranom dijelu Nestorove kronike "Povijest minulih ljeta"" [Croats in the introductory non-dated part of the Nestor's chronicle "History of the past years"]. In Nosić, Milan (ed.). Bijeli Hrvati I [White Croats I] (in Croatian). Maveda. pp. 106–107. ISBN 953-7029-04-2.
  8. ^ Jaroslav Rudnyckyj (1982). An Etymological Dictionary of the Ukrainian Language: Parts 12–22 (in English and Ukrainian). 2. Winnipeg: Ukrainian Free Academy of Sciences (UVAN). p. 968.
  9. ^ a b Paščenko, Jevgenij (2006), Nosić, Milan (ed.), Podrijetlo Hrvata i Ukrajina [The origin of Croats and Ukraine] (in Croatian), Maveda, pp. 99–102, 109, ISBN 953-7029-03-4
  10. ^ Strižak, Oleksij (2006). "Sorbi, Srbi, Hrvati i Ukrajina" [Sorbs, Serbs, Croats and Ukraine]. In Nosić, Milan (ed.). Bijeli Hrvati I [White Croats I] (in Croatian). Maveda. pp. 106–107. ISBN 953-7029-04-2.

External links[edit]