a term widely used in the past in Northern Great Russia to designate the original peasant family commune. Later, in the 16th through 18th centuries, and in some areas even in the 19th century, the term designated a form of land ownership and rural settlement consisting of several homesteads of families related by blood. Each homestead had a right to a certain share of the agricultural land of the pechishche; this share could be sold, willed, inherited, and divided into smaller units upon agreement of all the families comprising the pechishche.
Historically the pechishche is a form of patronymic group (see). The pechishche is also called an ogni-shche; in Byelorussia it is called a dvorishche.