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Russian Culture in the 12th – 13th Centuries, Part 3
January 19, 2015 16:27

Previous: Russian Culture in the 12th – 13th Centuries, Part 2

The architecture of Galitsk-Volynsk Russia was no less remarkable. Here are the famous architecture monuments, such as the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir-Volynsk, St. Panteleymon Church, a complex of princely palace constructions in Galich, etc. Old architecture of Kholm town have not come down to us, but it is known from chronicles that Prince Daniil ordered to build there three churches decorated with carved white stone from Galich and white and green stone from Kholm. A high pillar with a huge eagle sculpture on top of it towered above the town on the way to it. 

Architecture developed in Chernigov, Smolensk, Polotsk, Gorodno (Grodno) and other Old Russian towns. There also appeared various civil constructions of princely mansions following traditions of Old Russian palace architecture in Vladimir, Galich and other cities.

More and more styles were developed in fine arts, with local folk creativity often combatting the dominion of church ideology. Bright and juicy colours were typical for Novgorod painting (frescoes of St. Sophia Cathedral, St. Nicholas Dvorishchensk Church and the Annunciation Churche). Paintings of the Saviour at Nereditsa, including its walls, dome, pillars and arches were especially remarkable. Novgorod iconography had the same characteristic features as monumental painting, and was rooted in folk art.

The art of Vladimir-Suzdal Russia was peculiar. Local churches were filled with “multivarious icons and innumerable precious stones”. Unfortunately, little of this abundance has been preserved: remains of painting of the Annunciation Cathedral, St. Dimetrius Cathedral and Dmitry Solunsky icon. Even less art monuments have come down to us from other areas of Russia. 

Applied arts and crafts, as well as sculpture, being less than painting limited by church canons, often depicted folk games and dances, battle scenes, and the like. The crafts of coinage, embossing stamps, and stone carving (such as church interiors, stone icons, etc.) saw considerable rise. Motives of folk creativity were abundantly reflected in embroidery, as well as book designs, such as headpieces, heelpieces, capital letters etc. These decorative elements often included scenes of peasant life and labour along with floral ornaments.

The influence of folk creativity can be well observed in one of the drawings remained on the margin of a 12th century Pskov manuscript: it depicts a peasant at rest with a spade nearby and an inscription: “Work, the labourer”.

Literature of the period of feudal dissociation spread the ideas of the ruling class. The best works of literature, however, called princes for making peace and protecting the independence of homeland and thus reflected aspirations of the people at large.

Church predicatory literature taught common people to obey the authorities, both heavenly and earthly. Their authors Kliment Smolyatich, Kirill Turovsky, and others were well educated and resorted to heritage of classic literature in these works.

The well-known scribe Kliment Smolyatich (the mid 12th century) quoted Omir (Homer), Aristotle and Platon, and so came under attacks of orthodox churchmen.

The ideology of church nobility was embodied in the remarkable literature monument of the 1720s - Patericon of the Kyiv Pechersk monastery. Pervaded with the idea of superiority of the ecclesiastic power over temporal power, it included 20 exempla about life of this largest church feudal corporation.

Next: Russian Culture in the 12th – 13th Centuries, Part 4

Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian Culture Russian History    

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