The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a tribal union of Eastern Slavs that inhabited the forest-steppe chernozem lands on both banks of the Dnieper River from Liubech to Rodnia and along the lower courses of the Ros’, Sula, Stugna, Teterev, Irpen’, Desna, and Pripiat’ rivers. The land of the Poliane lay in the middle of territories colonized by a number of Eastern Slavic tribes, including the Drevliane, Radimichi, Dregovichians, and Severiane; the river network of the land of the Poliane served to join the various tribes. The land of the Poliane was on the route running “from the Varangians to the Greeks,” an important trade route that connected northern Europe with the Black Sea area and Byzantium.

Plowing and crop cultivation reached a high level of development among the Poliane in the ninth and tenth centuries, as did various crafts, such as blacksmithing, casting, pottery, and jewelry-making. Population density was high, as shown by the thousands of kurgans (burial mounds) discovered by archaeologists. The Poliane lived in small families in dugouts and huts and wore homespun clothing and simple ornaments. Before Christianiza-tion, they cremated their dead and erected burial mounds over the remains.

The Poliane were subjugated by the Khazar Khanate in the ninth century and paid tribute to the Khanate. In the 860’s, the princes of the Poliane led their people in victorious campaigns against Byzantium, the Pechenegs, and their neighbors the Polo-chane. The land of the Poliane was taken by Prince Oleg of Novgorod in the 880’s and became the nucleus of the early Russian state. The largest towns of the Poliane were Kiev, Pe-reiaslavl’-Russkii, Rodnia, Vyshgorod, Belgorod, and Kanev. The independent principalities of Kiev, Chernigov, and Pereia-slavl’ emerged in this area during the period of feudal fragmentation. The term “Poliane” was no longer used by the tenth century and was replaced by “Rus’.” The chronicles last mention the Poliane in the year 944.


Rybakov, B. A. “Poliane i severiane.” In the collection Sovetskaia etnografiia, nos. 6–7. Moscow, 1947.
Tret’iakov, P. N. Vostochnoslavianskie plemena, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1953.
Rusanova, I. P. Kurgany polian X-XII vv. Moscow, 1966.
Mezentseva, H. H. Kanivs’ke poselennia polian. Kiev, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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