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World Cultures/Culture in Asia/Culture of Russia - (added at August 22, 2021 at 08:10AM)

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Saint Basil's Cathedral on Red Square in Moscow

"Scarlet Sails" celebration in Saint Petersburg (Watch on )

The culture of the ethnic Russian people (along with the cultures of many other ethnicities with which it has intertwined in the territory of the Russian Federation and the former Soviet Union) has a long tradition of achievement in many fields,[1] especially when it comes to literature,[2] folk dancing,[3] philosophy, classical music,[4][5] traditional folk-music, ballet,[6] architecture, painting, cinema,[7] animation and politics. In all these areas Russia has had a considerable influence on world culture. Russia also has a rich material culture and a tradition in technology.

Russian culture grew from that of the East Slavs, with their pagan beliefs and specific way of life in the wooded, steppe and forest-steppe areas of Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Major influences on early Russian culture and East Slavic people in Russia included:

nomadic Turkic people (Tatars, Kipchaks) and tribes of Iranian origin through intense cultural contacts in the Russian steppe

Finno-Ugric peoples, Balts and Scandinavians (Germanic people) through the Russian North

Goths in the Pontic littoral, who left linguistic traces in the early Russian dialects

the people of the Byzantine Empire (especially Greeks) with whom the early Russians maintained strong cultural links[8]

In the late 1st millennium AD the Nordic sea culture of the Varangians (Scandinavian Vikings) and in the middle of the second millennium the nomadic peoples of the Mongol Empire also influenced Russian culture.[9][10][11] The fusion of Nordic-European and Oriental-Asian cultures shaped Early Slavic tribes in European Russia and helped to form the Russian identity in the Volga region and in the states of the Rus' Khaganate (Template:Circa 9th century AD) and Kievan Rus' (9th to 13th centuries). Orthodox Christian missionaries began arriving from the Eastern Roman Empire in the 9th century, and Kievan Rus' officially converted to Orthodox Christianity in 988. This largely defined the Russian culture of the next millennium as a synthesis of Slavic and Byzantine cultures.[12] Russia or Rus' formed, developed its culture and was influenced through its location by Western European and Asian cultures so that a Russian-Eurasian culture developed.[13]

After Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453, Russia remained the largest Orthodox nation in the world and eventually claimed succession to the Byzantine legacy in the form of the Third Rome idea. An important period in Russian history, the Tsardom of Russia from 1547 until 1721, saw many Russian cultural peculiarities emerge and develop. At different periods in Russian history, the culture of Western Europe also exerted strong influences over Russian citizens. During the era of the Russian Empire which existed from 1721 to 1917, the title of the rulers became officially westernised: Tsars claimed the title and rank of "Emperor". Following the reforms of Peter the Great (reigned 1682–1725) in the Russian Empire, for two centuries Russian "high culture" largely developed in the general context of European culture rather than pursuing its own unique ways.[14] The situation changed in the 20th century, when the distinctive Communist ideology - originally imported from Europe - became a major factor in the culture of the Soviet Union, where Russia, in the form of the Russian SFSR, was the largest and leading part. The culture of the Soviet Union has decisively shaped the former Soviet Russian Republic and thus Russian culture.

Although Russia has been influenced by Western Europe, the Eastern world, Northern cultures and the Byzantine Empire for more than 1000 years since ancient Rus' and is culturally connected with them, it is often arguedTemplate:By whom? that due to its history, geography and inhabitants (which belong to different language families but became embedded in the Russian language and culture), the country has developed a character with many aspects of a unique Russian civilization which in many parts differs from both Western and Eastern cultures.[15][16][17]

Nowadays,Template:When? the Nation Brands Index ranks Russian cultural heritage seventh in importance,[citation needed] based on interviews of some 20,000 people mainly from Western countries and from the Far East. Due to the relatively late involvement of Russia in modern globalization and in international tourism, many aspects of Russian culture, like Russian jokes and Russian art, remain largely unknown to foreigners.[18]

Language and literature[edit | edit source]

The Ostromir Gospels, the second oldest East Slavic book known; 1056 AD; Russian National Library (Saint Petersburg)

Page of a Russian illuminated manuscript; 1485–1490

Russia's 160 ethnic groups speak some 100 languages.[1] According to the 2002 census, 142.6 million people speak Russian, followed by Tatar with 5.3 million and Ukrainian with 1.8 million speakers.[19] Russian is the only official state language, but the Constitution gives the individual republics the right to make their native language co-official next to Russian.[20] Despite its wide dispersal, the Russian language is homogeneous throughout Russia. Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken Slavic language.[21] Russian belongs to the Indo-European language family and is one of the living members of the East Slavic languages; the others being Belarusian and Ukrainian (and possibly Rusyn). Written examples of Old East Slavic (Old Russian) are attested from the 10th century onwards.[22]

Over a quarter of the world's scientific literature is published in Russian. Russian is also applied as a means of coding and storage of universal knowledge—60–70% of all world information is published in the English and Russian languages.[23] The language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

Folklore[edit | edit source]

New Russian folklore takes its roots in the pagan beliefs of ancient Slavs, which is nowadays still represented in the Russian folklore. Epic Russian bylinas are also an important part of Slavic mythology. The oldest bylinas of Kievan cycle were actually recorded mostly in the Russian North, especially in Karelia, where most of the Finnish national epic Kalevala was recorded as well.

Buyan by Ivan Bilibin

Many Russian fairy tales and bylinas were adapted for Russian animations, or for feature movies by famous directors like Aleksandr Ptushko (Ilya Muromets, Sadko) and Aleksandr Rou (Morozko, Vasilisa the Beautiful). Some Russian poets, including Pyotr Yershov and Leonid Filatov, created a number of well-known poetical interpretations of classical Russian fairy tales, and in some cases, like that of Alexander Pushkin, also created fully original fairy tale poems that became very popular.

Folklorists today consider the 1920s the Soviet Union's golden age of folklore. The struggling new government, which had to focus its efforts on establishing a new administrative system and building up the nation's backwards economy, could not be bothered with attempting to control literature, so studies of folklore thrived. There were two primary trends of folklore study during the decade: the formalist and Finnish schools. Formalism focused on the artistic form of ancient byliny and faerie tales, specifically their use of distinctive structures and poetic devices.[24] The Finnish school was concerned with connections amongst related legends of various Eastern European regions. Finnish scholars collected comparable tales from multiple locales and analyzed their similarities and differences, hoping to trace these epic stories’ migration paths.[25]

Emblem of the Ministry of Culture of Russia. The image of the crowned double eagle and the central crown which is connected with the other two crowns is often used as a pictorial example of Russias cultural nature. One crowned head looks to Europe and reflects the Western European element in Russian culture, the other looks to Asia and symbolizes the Asian Oriental element in Russia. Both are connected to a big third crown. Russian culture is connected with European and Asian cultures and was influenced by both.[26]

Once Joseph Stalin came to power and put his first five-year plan into motion in 1928, the Soviet government began to criticize and censor folklore studies. Stalin and the Soviet regime repressed folklore, believing that it supported the old tsarist system and a capitalist economy. They saw it as a reminder of the backward Russian society that the Bolsheviks were working to surpass.[27] To keep folklore studies in check and prevent "inappropriate" ideas from spreading amongst the masses, the government created the RAPP – the Russian Association of Proletarian Writers. The RAPP specifically focused on censoring fairy tales and children's literature, believing that fantasies and "bourgeois nonsense" harmed the development of upstanding Soviet citizens. Fairy tales were removed from bookshelves and children were encouraged to read books focusing on nature and science.[28] RAPP eventually increased its levels of censorship and became the Union of Soviet Writers in 1932.


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