Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv

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Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv

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

Historical background for the legend[edit]

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.[2]. 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.

This legend of the three brothers and their sister is one of the most popular theories among the attempts to explain the local names. Shchek and Khoryv, according to this theory, represent the actual Shchekavytsia and Khorevytsia mountains in the center of Kiev, 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 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. ^

External links[edit]