Boikos — an ethnographic group living along the northern and in part the southern slopes of the *Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine and Poland. There is no consensus regarding the etymology of the word boiko. According to present-day administrative boundaries Boikos inhabit parts of the Ivano-Frankivs’k oblast (the Dolyna district/raion and the southwestern Rohatyn district) and the L’viv oblast (the Skole, Turka, southern Stryi, southern Sambir, and part of the Staryi Sambir district) in Ukraine, and the far southeastern corner of Poland, primarily the valleys of the upper San River and its tributary, the Solinka River. About 70 villages on the southern slopes of the Carpathian crests are also considered by ethnographers to be Boiko. They are located in the Volovets’ district and the northwestern Mizhhir”ia and far northern Velykyi Bereznyi districts of Ukraine’s Transcarpathian oblast/*Subcarpathian Rus’ (see Map 3).
The Boikos on the northern slopes of the Carpathians in historic Galicia adopted a Ukrainian national identity during the first half of the twentieth century. In the so-called Boiko villages south of the mountains in Subcarpathian Rus’ the inhabitants until recently called themselves Rusyns or Rusnaks; many even considered the term Boiko to be offensive. But with the onset of Soviet rule in Subcarpathian Rus’ after 1945 many Boikos adopted a Ukrainian national identity or simply designated themselves as Verkhovyntsi/Highlanders.
The Boikos traditionally gained their livelihood primarily from highland agriculture and livestock breeding. Until the twentieth century they maintained a *patriarchal social structure governed by common law in which their rites and traditions were heavily influenced by ancient pagan practices. Traditional Boiko homesteads consisted of a long yard, alongside which was a single structure covered by a straw roof. It contained a room for the family and another for storing hay, as well as a pantry, tool shed, and stable for the animals (see also Architecture). In the Soviet Ukraine the collectivization of agriculture introduced during the period of Communist rule after World War II undermined traditional Boiko culture. During the Communist period a certain percentage of Boikos migrated to cities, to neighboring districts (raiony), or to the lowland plains. In Poland, most Boikos emigrated to the Soviet Ukraine as part of a population exchange (1945–1946), after which many of their villages were destroyed or resettled by Poles. Since the 1970s much of the traditional Boiko homeland in Poland’s Upper San River valley has been transformed into a state park and nature reservation.
Bibliography: J. Falkowski and B. Pasznycki, Na pograniczu lemkowsko-bojkowskiem (L’viv, 1935); Roman F. Kyrchiv, Ethnohrafichne doslidzhennia Boikivshchyny (Kiev, 1978); Janusz Rieger, ed., Atlas gwar bojkowskich, 4 vols. (Wroclaw, Warsaw, Cracow, Gdansk, 1980–84); Iurii Hoshko, ed., Boikivshchyna: istoryko-etnohrafichne doslidzhennia (Kiev, 1983); Iurii Hoshko, ed., Ukrainskie Karpaty: kul’tura (Kiev, 1989).
Paul Robert Magocsi
Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.