The Polovtsian Statues of the Eurasian Steppes

The Polovtsians (derived from the Ukrainian word polovtsy, meaning blonde) were nomadic warriors of the Eurasian steppes during the Middle Ages. In the area that is now Ukraine, the Polovtsians came into conflict with the Kievan Rus, as famously depicted in Alexander Borodin’s opera in four acts with a prologue, Prince Igor. Although the Polovtsians were an influential force during the 11th and 12th centuries, the Mongol invasions of the 13th century broke their power and forced them to migrate westwards. One of the material cultures left behind by the Polovtsians are numerous anthropomorphic statues made of either stone or wood.

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