New Rus Culture Post Mongol Occupation

Little evidence of culture and everyday life was left behind after the Mongol occupation. As A.M. Sakharov had pointed out in our previous readings, the Mongol Yoke destroyed centers of elite culture, cities, and markets all around Rus. Despite all that was lost during the occupation, it seems that starting in the  early fourteenth century, a new Russian culture had awakened.

One of Russian history’s most famous painters, Andrei Rublev lived during this era. Rublev pioneered a whole new style of art and invented painting techniques never known before. Not only is he considered one of the greatest artists in early Russia, but his work has been compared to some of the most well known artists in Western Europe. The discovery of pieces of birchbark writing gives evidence that there was, to some extent, literacy in Novgorod. One of them lists letters of the alphabet while the other is a picture of a horse and rider spearing an opponent. It also includes the name Onfim to the right.The drawing is very simple and looks as if it was drawn by a child. This means that education of reading and writing for children could potentially have existed.

Another form of culture that seems to be fairly significant at the time was the travel of Skomorokhi. The Skomorokhi were people that provided entertainment throughout Russia to mostly the peasant class. They included musicians, dancers, actors, and tamed animals dressed in colorful costumes. Using a variety of instruments from the gusli to percussion and wind instruments, the Skomorokhi were very popular at the time.

I found it most impressive that so much of this culture arouse independent of the Mongols. For instance, Rublev’s paintings did not have any Mongol cultural influence. His style was his own, and did not borrow from other cultures. The Skomorokhi’s instruments were ones they developed themselves and were not things made by the Mongols. There was a new and innovative culture in Rus, and that is something that is unique for a people ruled by a different culture for so long.

3 thoughts on “New Rus Culture Post Mongol Occupation

  1. I am skeptical with the notion that the Mongols did not contribute to Russian art at all. First, since everything was destroyed during the Mongol yoke it is hard for us to say that art was nonexistent. And even though Sakharov makes a fairly convincing argument, we should not forget that he was a bit biased, and that the absence of evidence should not be the evidence of absence (please excuse this cliche.) Furthermore, and without questioning his talent, the depiction of Andrei Rublev being a self made artist who was not influenced by anyone or anything, especially the Mongols or foreigners seems a bit… Exaggerated, and following the tale that Russia is unique. I do not believe that there has been one artist in history who was influenced or inspired by someone, somewhere.

  2. I completely agree, I highly doubt that the Mongols, who contributed a lot to the culture did not contribute to art. I’m sure that most Russians would prefer to think that their art is all their own. However, artists are influenced by their surroundings and their experiences so it’s extremely improbable that Mongol culture did not make any appearance in Andrei Rublev’s artwork. Sakharov definitely showcases his belief that Russia essentially created itself without any help from foreign peoples. His belief that Russian artists did not need or use Mongol influence further supports the idea that Russia is this superior nation that became powerful on their own without any help.

  3. I would actually be interested in reading more than just the single account of Andrei Rublev’s life. I agree with Paul, the depiction of this artist seemed very one sided. This account seemed too perfect, and too much like the author was essentially worshipping this artist. This is not my attempt at discrediting Andrei Rublev as a talented artist, rather I’m much more skeptical of the author’s claim that Rublev was never influenced by anyone whatsoever. I looked up the background of the author Mikhail Alpatov, and found that he was a Soviet historian. This could perhaps explain the tone of the author’s work, and the language used.

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