The Krivichi was one of the tribal
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

 unions of Early East Slavs between the 6th and the 12th centuries. They migrated to the mostly Finnic
Finnic peoples
The Finnic or Fennic peoples were historic ethnic groups who spoke various languages traditionally classified as Finno-Permic...

 areas in the upper reaches of the Volga, Dnieper, Western Dvina, areas south of the lower reaches of river Velikaya and parts of the Neman
Neman River
Neman or Niemen or Nemunas, is a major Eastern European river rising in Belarus and flowing through Lithuania before draining into the Curonian Lagoon and then into the Baltic Sea at Klaipėda. It is the northern border between Lithuania and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast in its lower reaches...

Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...



Many historians suggest that the name of the tribe probably stems from that of their legendary forefather Kriv, possibly a kniaz or a voivode. According to Max Vasmer
Max Vasmer
Max Vasmer was a Russian-born German linguist who studied problems of etymology of Indo-European, Finno-Ugric and Turkic languages and worked on history of Slavic, Baltic, Iranian, and Finno-Ugric peoples....

, this sobriquet was derived from the slavic adjective krivoy ("crooked/twisted") due to some possible birth defect. Jan Stankievič
Jan Stankievič
Dr. Jan Stankievič was a Belarusian-American linguist, historian and philosopher....

 believed it was derived from the adjective "kroŭ", "kryvi" ("blood"), hence, "kryvič" would mean "blood relationship".


The Krivichs left many archaeological monuments, such as the remnants of agricultural settlement
A town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size a settlement must be in order to be called a "town" varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many American "small towns" seem to British people to be no more than villages, while...

s with traces of ironworks
An ironworks or iron works is a building or site where iron is smelted and where heavy iron and/or steel products are made. The term is both singular and plural, i.e...

, jeweler's art, blacksmith
A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut...

's work and other handicraft
Handicraft, more precisely expressed as artisanic handicraft, sometimes also called artisanry, is a type of work where useful and decorative devices are made completely by hand or by using only simple tools. It is a traditional main sector of craft. Usually the term is applied to traditional means...

s; long burial mounds of 6-9 centuries with cremated
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

 bodies; burial mounds of rich warrior
A warrior is a person skilled in combat or warfare, especially within the context of a tribal or clan-based society that recognizes a separate warrior class.-Warrior classes in tribal culture:...

s with weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

s; sets of distinctive jewelry (bracelet
A bracelet is an article of jewelry which is worn around the wrist. Bracelets can be manufactured from metal, leather, cloth, plastic or other materials and sometimes contain jewels, rocks, wood, and/or shells...

-like temporal rings and glass beads made out of stretched wire). By the end of the first millennium
A millennium is a period of time equal to one thousand years —from the Latin phrase , thousand, and , year—often but not necessarily related numerically to a particular dating system....

, the Krivichs had already had well-developed farming and cattle-breeding. Having settled around the Trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks
Trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks
The trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks was a trade route that connected Scandinavia, Kievan Rus' and the Byzantine Empire. The route allowed traders along the route to establish a direct prosperous trade with Byzantium, and prompted some of them to settle in the territories of...

, the Krivichs traded with the Varangians
The Varangians or Varyags , sometimes referred to as Variagians, were people from the Baltic region, most often associated with Vikings, who from the 9th to 11th centuries ventured eastwards and southwards along the rivers of Eastern Europe, through what is now Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.According...

. Their chief tribal centres were Gnezdovo
Gnezdovo or Gnyozdovo is an archeological site located near the village of Gnyozdovo in Smolensk Oblast, Russia. The site contains extensive remains of a Slavic-Varangian settlement that flourished in the 10th century as a major trade station on the trade route from the Varangians to the...

, Izborsk
Izborsk is a rural locality in Pechorsky District of Pskov Oblast, Russia. It contains one of the most ancient and impressive fortresses of Western Russia....

, and Polotsk.

The Krivichs as a tribe took part in Oleg
Oleg , Oleh , or Aleh is a Slavic given name. It derives from the Old Norse Helgi , meaning "holy", "sacred", or "blessed"...

's and Igor's military campaigns against the Byzantine Empire. They are also mentioned in De Administrando Imperio
De Administrando Imperio
De Administrando Imperio is the Latin title of a Greek work written by the 10th-century Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VII. The Greek title of the work is...

as Κριβιτζοί. In the 970s, the Principality of Polatsk, ruled by the Varangian chieftain Ragnvald (Rogvolod, in Lithuanian language "rag(a)nvald-ys" means the man who govern/rule/control or manipulate witches), was chronicled for the first time.

Modern uses of the name

  • Today, in Latvian
    Latvian language
    Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. It is also sometimes referred to as Lettish. There are about 1.4 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad. The Latvian language has a relatively large number of non-native speakers, atypical for a small language...

    , the word "Krievs" means Russian and word "Krievija" - Russia. Through Baltic territories, the word became known in Central Europe. For example, a German chronicler from Duisburg
    - History :A legend recorded by Johannes Aventinus holds that Duisburg, was built by the eponymous Tuisto, mythical progenitor of Germans, ca. 2395 BC...

     wrote in 1314: “Frater Henricus Marschalcus... venit ad terram Crivitae, et civitatem illam, guae parva Nogardiadicitur cepit”. And in a Polish publication "Kazanie na Pogrzeb Maryanny Korsakywnej" (Lublin
    Lublin is the ninth largest city in Poland. It is the capital of Lublin Voivodeship with a population of 350,392 . Lublin is also the largest Polish city east of the Vistula river...

    , 1687. Б. II, 49) the Polatsk
    Polotsk , is a historical city in Belarus, situated on the Dvina river. It is the center of Polotsk district in Vitsebsk Voblast. Its population is more than 80,000 people...

     saint Paraxedis was called “Regina Krivitae” (the queen of the Kryvians).

  • "Kryvich" ("Крывіч") was the name of a magazine that the Belarusian historian Vaclau Lastouski
    Vaclau Lastouski
    Vaclaw Lastowski was a Belarusian critic, historian of literature, and politician.Was a member of Council of the Belarusian Democratic Republic. Has published many books about Belarus, recognized the right of the people of Belarus to self-determination...

     published in Kouna from 1923 to 1927.

    KRIWI is a Belarusian folk and rock band. The band name literally means "a person belonging to the ancient Belarusian tribe of Kryvians".KRIWI is known for using a variety of European folk instruments and mixing them with modern technology of synthesizer and samples, with powerful vocals of Veranika...

    is the name of a Belarusian folk-rock band.
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