Siabry. A class of peasants in Kyivan Rus’ and later in the Lithuanian-Ruthenian state who communally farmed land or engaged in other production, such as beekeeping, fishing, or the salt trade. The siabr system of ownership and economy is interpreted in different ways by historians. It is mentioned in the missive of Metropolitan Klym Smoliatych, who equates the status of siabry to that of izhoi. In the laws of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (the Lithuanian Statute of 1529) they are described as participants in peasant husbandry who do not necessarily have the same rights as landless peasants. The siabr economy expanded rapidly in central and eastern Ukraine in the 16th and 17th centuries, when those regions were colonized, but it was gradually displaced by the rule of hereditary nobles. Vestiges, such as community use of pastures and fields, remained until the early 20th century.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

Encyclopedia of Ukraine