Religious influences on Russian Pop Culture

Religion played a central role in the everyday life in Post-Kievan Rus’.  The church was still what bound the people together in a very much separated society.  Much of what was happening with pop culture in this time was directly affected by the church.

During this time, the provisions of wills was distributed by the church due to the fact writing was not wide spread.  It is seen in the last will of Patrikei Stroev, that church plays a big part in the will itself.  The first line reads, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” (KM 130), showing that this is a religious document from the very first line.  Later on in the will we see that he donates an entire village and three beehives to the Holy Trinity monastery (KM 130).

The church was also very critical of minstrels.  These groups of entertainers were able, “to flourish in the northwest…” (KM 135), where Novgorod was located.  However, the northeast proved to be tough for the minstrels as the church capital and Grand Prince lived in Moscow.  The prince strictly forbids any minstrels to enter any land belonging to the monastery (KM 135).  To the church these entertainers demonstrate satanic rituals and witchcraft.

Literature and art were extremely influenced by religion and some cases they really had a monopoly over both.  Icon painting became very popular as seen with the development of schools specifically for painting icons.  Andrew Rublev became famous with icon works such as, the Old Testament Holy Trinity, that were created for the church (RS 121).  Church literature was being developed on a considerable scale as well (RS 116).  The teachings of saints was also an important educational tool being used at the time.

Did the involvement of the church in pop culture have a more negative or positive effect for Post-Kievan Rus’?

2 thoughts on “Religious influences on Russian Pop Culture

  1. I would say that the presence of the church in pop culture was overall more positive than negative for the post-Kievan Rus’. Say what you want about the monopoly that the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) had over certain elements of culture, but one could reasonably argue that the ROC made cultural retardation under the Mongol yoke slower and less harsh than it might have been otherwise.

  2. The Church’s influence in art and literature of Post-Kiev society is neither all positive or all negative. Because of the two century control of the Mongols, many, if not all of Russia’s artisans were killed by turmoil or passed away before they can teach a new generation their craft. With the influence of the Church, comes the development of architecture once again since Moscow now needs Church buildings. The presence of the Church encourages art and literature to return to the Russian culture, being that without the Church only boyars could engage in such an elitist activity. However the negative side of the Church’s influence on art is that all the art we view from this period was crafted by monks or centered around saints. Nothing is wrong with such an epoch, in fact much of Europe had only religious art before the Enlightenment. However we cannot then assume that religious art is representative of all creative thought in Post-Kiev Russia.

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