Pruzany Section 

Pinkas: Pruzany, Bereza, Maltch, Shereshov,Seltz

1.The Environment

1.1. Forests

1.2. The Rivers

1.3 Roadways and paths






1. The Environment

By N. Tzukerman

The city of Pruzhany is placed at 52: 33 latitude and 24: 27 longitude over the rivers Mucha and Wietz. These two rivers join their waters giving origin to the Muchawietz River. At that place the river carries little water and it is rather weak. At the length of twelve kilometers it falls only three meters (from one hundred and fifty five to one hundred and fifty two); that means that each kilometer the river falls twenty-five centimeters.

This little difference in height gives the river more the appearance of a pool than of torrential water. The riverbanks are practically not touched, as the strength of the water is too weak to pull up and to drag parts of the coast. That is why the Muchawietz doesn't have geographical accidents along Pruzhany. The weak river bed (lately is has been regulated in its upper part) does not give any possibility for pushing the stagnant water, and that is why our area is so rich. It is because of this, that swamps and bogs are so characteristic in all the area.

1.1 Forests

The area surrounding Pruzhany today has very few trees, if we don't take into account the ones planted by human being. There are not any great forests in the surroundings radius of ten kilometers. The areas around Pruzhany are similar to a great plain, several kilometers long open to human eye.

Pruzhany is as an average 163 meters above sea level, although sometimes the surface is greater or slighter than the average. The environment has changed a lot during the last centuries according to the documents we have and the legends that we listen to in the city.

A great forest covered Pruzhany some centuries ago and was  inhabited by "hurs"1; it was called the “Pushka of Pruzhany”. This fact is strengthened by a document from 1644 when Jewish people got special privileges from the Polish King Vladislav IV. These documents show that the Jewishs had the right to let the cattle graze at the entrance of the “Pushka of Pruzhany”, the same right the gentiles had. That is why they must share the same responsibilities with the gentiles with regard to the Pushka.

There is a second demonstration and we find it in the “Review of Pushkas and wondering animals”2 by Grihar Vallovich from the year 1559. There we learn that "the range of the forest is from the Pushkas of Pinsk going along Tarakan, Horodetz and Kobrin to the Pushkas of Kobrin, to the side of Hrushawaia between Kobrin and Pruzhany over the river Muchawietz". "It goes between the fields and yards of Shereshov and the village of Wieshna to Shereshov and the “Bieloviezer Pushka” 3 . From all these details we come to the conclusion that a Pushka covered the entire environment surrounding. Pruzhany of today is free from trees that during the years disappeared completely.

1.2 The Rivers

Our areas changed a lot because of the rivers. Centuries ago, the Muchawietz was wider and carried a lot of water. A change took place over the centuries. The elder people tell us that they remember the Muchawietz was wider and deeper. Today (1929) they repeat that it was wider in the past. In fact one of the legends is that the Muchawietz was a very big river. Every spring, when the snow melted, the Muchawietz flooded the surroundings. The legends say that an important princess crossed the river; one of her children fell into the water and drowned. From that moment the river is damned and becomes drier every year.

The importance of the river is stated in the “Review of Kobriner Economy”. There it is said: “Mills on the Muchawietz: at the "backyard" a mill of one wheel; at the back of the city a mill of two wheels, at one mile from the city a mill of two wheels”.

We find these facts in historic documents that show that the Muchawietz also changed in its width and partly in its bed. In a document of “Lithuanian Metrika” 4 from year 1473, it is confirmed that the landlord Ivan Semenovich Kobrinski left part of these parcels of land to build a church in Pruzhany 5. He also left with the same purpose an island on the river Muchawietz: it says “...that is why we leave an island called Dubowa on the river Mucha (Muchawietz) not far from the town of Slonimtzy, so that some citizens can settle...”. On the island you can get some oat. Today Slomintzy is practically three kilometers away from the Muchawietz.

In spite of this, the great swamps between Slonimtzy and the Muchawietz give us the idea of something that could be before the river bed. That is why we can accept that the Muchawietz, near Slonimtzy, had at a certain time two different branches. Near Slonimtzy passed the left branch of the river, and where the two branches joined the island of Dubowe was created. We must accept that due to the decrease of the left branch of the river near Slonimtzy, it slowly became a marsh. These changes are common in the story of rivers.

From all these facts, it is clear that the actual aspect of the surrounding geography in many details is not at all similar to the picture of the area four or five centuries ago.

1.3 Roadways and paths 

Not only has the geography surrounding Pruzhany changed. There were many changes in the roadways and paths that sometimes crossed through Pruzhany, and now they have lost all sense. Today Pruzhany is placed on the side of the railway and does not play any important role in communications. Pruzhany looks different, considering the view of several centuries ago. The street we call IATKE 6, once was the path through Rozshinoi to Vilna. Through this path the corpse   of Queen Barbara (from the Radziwill house), was carried in the 16th century. The second roadway of importance was “OLD SELTZER” (today MESHTSHANSKE) that went up to Moscow. Through this roadway passed the Polish king Vladislav IV before the wars against the Cossacks. In this place the same king gave Jewish people certain privileges as a present.

There too Napoleon and his army passed on his way to Moscow, and the Russian czars went travelling to Bieloviezsh or Vilna. That means that Pruzhany was at a certain time the spine of the roads joining different points, which in history played an important role. If we wanted now to try to reveal our area in the past, we would have this framework: All the terrain within a radius of several kilometers was covered by a forest inhabited by hurs; it was not a safe place as bands of thieves and robbers made their livelihood from people going along these roadways. Through the hurs forest, a wide and deep way crosses the Muchawietz. The ways of prehistoric Pruzhany crosses the Muchawietz.





1.  A hur is an animal from the bison family.
2."Revisie Pushtsh i ferechodov zwierinich", Vilna 1867, cited by S. Wislaw "Rozvai Granitz territorium powiatu Kobrinskieno do Polovi, Vieko XVI" Vilna 1930

3. This forest still exist near Brest, and is part in Belarus and part in Poland
4.According to M. Balinsky
5. We are going to get more details of this document in the following article
6 Word in yiddish that means "market"



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