Peculiarities of Russian Culture Richies

Table of Content

Russian Culture

            Russians have a particularly rich culture which is a product of their history. The Russian cuisine and art are particularly their great source of pride and are just some aspect of their culture that is extremely influential. Russians are also known for their source of humor. The world literature has also been widely influenced by the Russian literature. Another great source of Russian national pride is their famous classical music composers who have been acknowledged the world over. There is no aspect of the Russian culture that can be considered without giving credence to the importance of language.

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            Like among many people, the cultural identity of the Russians appears to be defined by language. To be Russian is basically to have Russian as one’s mother tongue. This is particularly true in a preliterate society with its restricted understanding of time and space, but remains substantially accurate as a society develops into a modern nation (Kelly. & Lovell, 2000: 23). Language mediate historical and geographical awareness, the ability to react the psychological and aesthetic aspects of literature, the challenge and pleasure of intellectual intercourse and the possibility of comprehending non-verbal experience such as music and art. It may also be argued that the form of language determines the form of thought. Again, language is also the fundamental modeling system through which the environment is conceived and all other systems are filtered. It is thus very obvious that language plays an important role in culture and its definition. This is particularly true of Russian cultural history. Russian is the official and common language that is used throughout the Russian Federation. It is the language understood by almost the entire population of the current inhabitants.

Russian humor

            The great flexibility and richness of the Russian language provides much too Russian humor’s wit. The Russian language allows for plays on words ad unexpected associations. The vast scope of Russian humor ranges from lewd jokes and silly word play to political satire. For the major part of Russian history, humor was an expression of the human spirit. Under the autocratic monarchies, political satire was seen as potentially dangerous. The most common form of Russian humor comprises of jokes. A series of categories with static and highly familiar settings and character are typical of Russian joke culture.

Russian Art

            One of the most important influences on Russian culture has been the church. The church in particular shaped the visual arts and other aspects of the Russian cultural identity. The Russian iconic paintings are just an example of this influence. The paintings were inherited from the art of the Byzantine churches. The art was modified into a version of mosaic and fresco traditions. The Tretyakov Gallery contains the most comprehensive collection of icon art in Russia. The Russian icons have a unique and distinctive style rather than being mere imitations. Among the individuals who made much contribution to the icon movement was Andrei Rublev who is considered to be the greatest medieval Russian painter.

            During the second half of the nineteenth century, a form of art flourished in Russia referred to as Russian avant-garde. This was a large and influential wave of modernist art that begun at around 1850 and ended during the 1960’s. The term Russian avant-garde encompasses many distinct but inextricably related art movements that took place during the time. Such art movements include neo-primitivism, suprematism, constructivism and futurism. Notable artists such as El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky, Vladimir Tatlin, Marc Chagall and Alexander Rodchenko emerged during this era. The peak of Russian avant-garde’s popularity and creativity came between the period of Russian Revolution of 1917 and 1932. It was during this period that the ideas of the avant-garde conflicted with the newly established state-sponsored direction of socialist realism.

            During the period of the Russian Revolution a movement emerged that was meant to incorporate all arts into the service of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The medium for this was instituted some days before the revolution known as Proletkult. Alexander Bogdanov was one of the prominent theorists of this movement. Initially, the ministry of education supported Proletkult since arts was under the ministry. The Proletkult however sought for independence from the Bolsheviks. The result was that Lenin, the leader of the Bolsheviks, came to dislike the movement intensely leading to its considerable decline by 1922. In 1932, Stalin eventually disbanded the movement. Soviet art declined after the death of Stalin with Russian artists become more independent of the state. In 1980, the Russian government granted complete freedom to the artists, ruling out that it could not restrict what the artists could paint.

            Until the fall of Constantinople, the Russian architecture was predominantly influenced by the Byzantine architecture. The Renaissance trend was introduced by Aristotle Fioravanti and other Italian architects. During the reign if Ivan the Terrible and Godunov tent-like churches were developed leading to Saint Basil’s Cathedral. The fiery style of ornamentation thrived in Moscow and Yaroslavl which gradually paved way for the Naryshkin baroque of the 1690s (Torchinsky & Black 2005: 123-124). The eighteenth century rococo architecture resulted in the splendid works of Bartolomeo Rastrelli and his followers. The city of Saint Petersburg was changed into outdoor museum of Neoclassical architecture during the reign of Catherine the Great and Alexander I who was Catherine’s grandson. During the nineteenth century, the dominating aspect was the revival of the Byzantine and Russian. During the twentieth century, the dominating styles were the Art Nouveau, Constructivism and the Stalinist Empire style.

Performance Art

            Russian film making did not come into prominence until during the 1920’s even though it was involved into this form of art as early as most of the western nations. It was during the nineteen twenties that the performing arts begun to explore editing as the basic mode of cinematic expression. Russian film schools took copies of Griffith’s ‘Intolerance’ and re-cut it as an attempt to create meaning. This is mainly due to the fact that resources were depleted during the World War I. The Russian cinema is much different from the Soviet cinema and must therefore not be used as synonyms. Russian films predominated the region even though several other republics established lively and unique cinemas. Such republics were Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Lithuania and to a lesser extent, Moldova and Belarus.

            The Russian cinema has undergone a great transformation ever since the Soviet Union dissolved. The state largely funds the industry even though the industry is responsible for updating the topics and intended audience. Film making in Russia decreased sharply during the nineteen nineties, going from hundreds annually to double digits. However, an increased viewer ship has increased in recent years with a subsequent prosperity to the industry. This can be attributed to the exploration of contemporary subjects such as sexuality. The Russian cinema seems to be inclined towards covering serious and sometimes philosophical matters although its audience has decreased remarkably. The industry also makes productions on educational films on history and culture.

            Russian dances are also another aspect of its culture that is widely recognized the world over. Of particular popularity are its ballet dancers. The art form has captured world wide attention through the performance of dancers such as Alexander Godunov. The ballet dancers were used by the government during the years of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic to display the Russian nation’s cultural prowess. They were however flaunted by the government. There are also claims that the government mistreated the dancers. In recent times, the Russian ballet has shifted from the politically motivated realm to its roots of cultural expression (Schultze, 2000: 65). The Russian people take much pride in their ballet dancers.

            With regard to music, the country has various forms of folk music due to the fact that Russia is a large and culturally diverse country. Besides having other more modern genre of music, the country has a great input to classical music. Russian classical composers such as Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and Mussorgsky are globally recognized. The period of Soviet domination saw music being limited to particular boundaries of content and innovation besides being highly scrutinized. After the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s, the most popular musical forms in Russia became the western style pop music and rock. Some native musicians became quite popular with the rise of western music in Russia. Currently, Russian music appears to be extremely inclined to religious audiences.

Russian cuisine

            The peak of excellence in Russian cuisine came in the century before the 1917 revolution. It was founded on the simple food of early Russia. The content was naturally determined by the northern climate. The storage of vegetables and fruits was encouraged by the short summers. The staples of early cuisines, pies and soups, were made from cabbages, mushrooms and berries of every kind. The population got its vitamin C from cabbage made into some kind of sauerkraut. Sauerkraut was in turn used to make shchi, cabbage soup, one of the staples of peasant cuisine, along with bread and buckwheat groats (Molokhovets & Toomre, 1998: 67). The Russians were familiar with mushrooms and berries as they were plentiful.

            The Russian cuisine was also determined by religion as the orthodox religion imposed fasting on more than half of the days every year. Fasting meant that the Russians were to give up consuming animal products such as eggs, meat and dairy products. The result was that Russians developed reliance on meatless dishes such as fruits, vegetables, grains and fish. Contact with other people over the centuries introduced other foods such as rice, tea, spices, noodles and other varieties of food. Territorial expansion of Russia also introduced foods from the conquered regions. A classic Russian cuisine was created by all these influences, especially with the opening of Russia to the West by Peter the Great.

Work Cited

Kelly, C. & Lovell, S. Russian literature, modernism and the visual arts. Cambridge University Press, 2000

Molokhovets, E. & Toomre, J.  Classic Russian cooking: Elena Molokhovets’ A gift to young housewives. Indiana University Press, 1998

Schultze, S. Culture and customs of Russia. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000

Torchinsky, O. & Black, A. Russia. Marshall Cavendish, 2005


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Peculiarities of Russian Culture Richies. (2016, Dec 07). Retrieved from

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