Dvoryshche. A self-sufficient farmstead (also called ohnyshche) in ancient Ukraine and medieval Kyivan Rus’. Under ancient Ukrainian law the dvoryshche was an economic unit, the members of which were bound by blood ties, collective ownership, and collective obligation. In the Lithuanian-Ruthenian state the dvoryshche was declared a taxable unit. The dvoryshche generally comprised about 40–50 people of the same family; non-family members could be accepted into the dvoryshche (such a member was known as a siabr or pryimych), but only their children could become co-owners. The estates of the dvoryshche included the farmyards, arable land, and appanages of the property (vhiddia—apiaries, pasturelands, etc). The dvoryshche could be divided up or extended only with the agreement of all its members. This legal and economic institution survived in Polisia, Volhynia, some parts of Galicia, and Podilia until the institution of the voloka land reform in the16th century, when it was replaced by individual ownership. The dvoryshche was especially common in Belarus, and it existed among the Southern Slavs, where it was known as zadruga, until the 19th century. Mykola Ivanyshev and Aeksandra Yefimenko wrote scholarly studies on the dvoryshche.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

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