Polianians (poliany). A Slavic tribe (a tribal alliance, according to Mykhailo Braichevsky) that lived on the right bank of the middle reaches of the Dnipro River, between the tributaries Ros River and Irpin River. They are mentioned in the earliest, undated section of the Rus’ Primary Chronicle as living in the Kyivan hills alongside the Varangian route to the Greeks. The last mention of them is under the year 944, where they are referred to as among Prince Ihor's warriors. Their name is derived from the fields (polia) they inhabited. The location of the Polianians' territory at the intersection of important trade routes contributed to their economic and cultural development as organizers of the Kyivan Rus’ state. In the 9th and 10th centuries they were already known as the Rus’, a name that was soon applied to all the tribes that made up Kyivan Rus’. The Polianians' principal city was Kyiv. Other important centers were Bilhorod, Bohuslav, Vyshhorod, and the Zvenyhorod (Kyiv region) fortress. Archeological evidence and the chronicles indicate that the Polianians engaged in agriculture (they used the hoe and plow), animal husbandry, hunting, beekeeping, and fishing and were skilled artisans. The chronicles state that they were socioeconomically more advanced than the neighboring Slavic tribes.

Hrushevs’kyi, M. Istoriia Ukraïny-Rusy, vol 1 (Lviv 1904; Kyiv 1913; New York 1954)
Tret’iakov, P. Vostochnoslavianskie plemena, 2nd edn (Moscow 1953)
Bibikov, S. (ed). Narysy starodavn’oï istoriï Ukraïns’koï RSR (Kyiv 1959)
Mezentseva, H. Kanivs’ke poselennia polian (Kyiv 1965)
Rusanova, I. Kurgany polian X–XII vv. (Moscow 1966)
Braichevs’kyi, M. Pokhodzhennia Rusi (Kyiv 1968)

Arkadii Zhukovsky

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

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