Culture of Kievan Rus

Culture of Kievan Rus

The history of culture of Kievan Rus covers several centuries. The Eastern Slavs were in the political union a little less than three hundred years. However, it was during this period that their spiritual community was formed. This community still has considerable influence on the East Slavic peoples, standing apart from other Slavs and traditionally considered very close to each other.

The culture of the medieval Kyiv state reached us in tangible and intangible evidences of the IX-XVI centuries: archaeological artifacts, priceless frescoes and icons of monasteries, architectural forms themselves, the most important written sources, folk epics that shed light on the spiritual orientations of the medieval Slavs, and so on. When talking about the ancient Russian civilization, usually

refer to the period that lasted from the beginning of the actual statehood in the IX century until the final strengthening of the Moscow kingdom in the XVI century.

Writing itself is an excellent category from culture. However, it is closely related to it. After all, it is through scientific, religious, diplomatic and political-legal texts that culture manifests itself. The origin of writing among the Eastern Slavs is primarily due to the activities of Greek Orthodox missionaries, Cyril and Methodius. And it is with the penetration of Christianity that the intensive development of the culture of Kievan Rus is associated. The Slavs were given the opportunity not to sporadically (of course, there were some educated people here and before), but to become widely familiar with books and the most progressive civilization at that time, which was Christian Byzantium.

It is not surprising that the most important written cultural monuments of Ancient Rus were created in the Glagolitic alphabet: these are the Vocabulary of Svyatoslav and Ostromir Gospel, and the Teachings to the Children of Monomakh, and the Russian Truth of Yaroslav, and many other important documents of the time. An extremely important place in the literature is occupied by artistic and historical tales: The Tale of Bygone Years, The Word of Igor’s Regiment,

The Tale of Batum Ryazan’s Taking and Others. At the same time, most of the medieval Russian written art did not reach contemporaries, being burnt in the fires of the Mongol invasion.

Until the X century, the eastern Slavs architecture was largely represented by wooden structures. Only during Vladimir’s reign is a close acquaintance with Orthodox Byzantium, and as a result, Russian masters adopt Greek traditions in architecture. The first in Russia monumental stone buildings. Of course, it was originally monasteries and churches, which in many ways inherited the features of Greek prototypes.

Among other things, Orthodoxy also stimulated the development of artistic skills of local craftsmen. It was manifested primarily in frescoes and mosaics, with which the walls of the temples were generously strewn. An important component of art was the painting of icons. It is interesting that the influence of Byzantine canons on iconography was traced in the further culture of Russian lands for an even longer period than in architecture.

Musical culture was closely connected with local folklore. The latter was expressed mainly through cult songs, poetry, epics and so on. By the way, in this area the influence of Orthodoxy and Byzantine culture was significantly smaller. Bylins and legends were rooted in the pagan past of the Slavs.


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Culture of Kievan Rus