II. culture of kiev rus culture development in Pre-Christian period icon

II. culture of kiev rus culture development in Pre-Christian period




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II. CULTURE OF KIEV RUS


1. Culture development in Pre-Christian period.

2. Value of acceptance of Christianity for cultural processes.

3. Dawn of Kiev Rus culture in X-XI cent.

4. Influence of feudal dissociation on culture


1. Culture development in Pre-Christian period.


As we know , Slavic people appeared on historical arena in the first centuries of a new era , and to the V cent. there was formed a group of East-Slavic tribes , that was named Rus. Sources of information about East-Slavic culture in ancient times are archeological and ethnographic data , national legends and also first written sources.

In foreign authors written compositions Slavic People were often depicted as barbarians , without any original culture.

Goth historian Jordan in VI cent. wrote that “Instead of cities they’ve got the woods and the swamps”.

This subjective statement is connected with fact that Slavic towns were little and didn’t look like antique cities. They were built on distance of 10-15 km from one to another and consisted of from 4 to 70 wooden houses. Main and mostly used building material was wood , that was accessible a lot , compared to stones , that needed transportation from far regions.

In the centers the “grads” were build, fortesses for security and also used for meetings and ceremonies.


Varangians called Ancient Rus “Gardarick” , that means “country of cities”. Most of the buildings in Slavic cities were built block houses from “srubs” - four-angled wooden constructions. From those simple houses and 2-3 levelled houses were built. Also “Srubs” were the basis of security walls.


Apartment houses were mostly build without nails , because rusting of nails quickly destroyed the buildings.

Windows had special wooden barriers , later the glass was used.


Archeological materials say , that in Slavic economy from ancient times agriculture was the main.


Ploughs and the draught force of bulls and horses were used.

These methods were very long used , even to the XX cent.


Slavic people also practised cattle breeding , hunting , fishing.

Crafts were gradually developed.

There was also professional metal processing.


Forge craft for Slavic people was honourable and even mystical profession.


In the same time other crafts like weaving , pottery as well as leather , stone and wood processing were mostly family businesses.


Some backwardness of material culture is connected to difficulties of historical ways of Slavic people, because of many wars with external enemies.


East Slavic people were conducting the active trade with different regions of Europe and Asia , buying weapons , fabric products and other from Byzantium , Alexandria , Baghdad , Bulgaria etc. They were exporting wax , honey , wood , fur , amber and also slaves.


This trading balance was unfavorable for Slavic people.

“The Chronicle of Bygone Years” says that East-Slavic people families were mostly patriarchal and polygamy was rare.

Countries and cities were ruled by the council of elders. This was depicted in fairy tale “Snegourochka”.

Breeding community was named “mir” or “verv”. Members of this community were connected by mutual responsibility.

“Verv” paid the penalty – “vira”, if there was a killing of a stranger on it’s territory and the identity of killer was unknown. If the killer was known , there was the principle of revenge.


This system was effective , according to middle-age writers , that say , that robbery was so rare in Slavic lands , that they didn’t close their chests with possessions.


Later traditional law was hard to change to national.


This process was accompanied by numerous conflicts , that was fixed by historians.

Those were the reasons to do the first written law – “Russian truth”.


Among with Councils of elders there was also institution of kniaz (the prince) power. The prince was elected.


System of tribal democracy with elements of war democracy of Slavic people was described by Byzantic Emperor and scientists.


Army at first was volunteer , but later became professional (and was named “druzhina” at this point)

In IX-X cent. such kinds of weapons , as heavy swords , mortars , catapults , axes , darts and others were widely used.

Appeared cavalry , chain armor and helmet were introduced.

Especially active forming of army was when power of prince became bigger. Prince was obliged to fid , dress and weaponize his army.

Most brave soldiers were awarded with land by prince , those how the boyarstvo was formed.

Interesting that before tataro-mongols conquest tribal and kniaz armies were not doing functions of compulsion and suppression.

Tribute gathering in which army haved the role usually was peaceful (first known case , when there was resistance - drevlian rebellion in 945 year).

Tribute was not burdensome to people and was “from house” , “from plough” , but never from every member of family.


Religion. Religion had a big role in culture of East Slavic people.

At that time that was paganism , that means worship to the forces of nature.

All the life of Slavic people considered in believing that people depended on gods and spirits.

Slavic people were very impressed by mighty and stong nature forces like storm , strong wind , fire.

Perun was the supreme god in Slavic mythology. He was the god of thunder and lighting , and included in himself, like other Slavic gods good and evil beings.

Other gods were Svarog (fire god) , Stribog (wind god) ,

Dajbog (luck god) and others.

In pantheon of East Slavic gods , if compared to ancient Greek and ancient Roman were only a few gods depicting interests or skills of men.

One of the few examples is Veles – god of richness , cattle and trading.

Slavic gods mostly looked not like men , but like fantastical creatures.

Sculptural portraits of these gods usually were made from wood , rarely from stone.

They were standing not in the temples , but in some places like river coasts , that called “kapisha”.

Today rituals of these gods cults mostly unknown.

Also female gods are rare , a few examples are Mokosh and Rozhanitsa.

There was also evil spirits in mythology – leshiy , bes , vodyanoy , mermaids and others.

East-Slavic culture , developing in periods of centuries made its own unique value system .

Slavery was absent as a system , that were leading to the fact of human life as a big value , compared to other ancient people. So , East Slavic haved a democratic tendencies of society development.

After religion was changed to Christianity , there began the next period in culture development in Rus and new processes started.


^ 2. Value of Christianity acceptance for cultural processes.

In X cent. Christianity appeared to be major religion in Europe.

Before infamous Vladimir The Great reforms Christianity was known to Rus. There’s known half-legend story about christening of Rus by apostle Andrei , as well as version about christening by Kirill and Mefodiy , with the help of Byzantium patriarch Fotiy in 60s of IX cent.

Authentic is fact of christening of kniaginya (the princess) Olga in 958 year.

But Christianity became the national religion in 988-990 years.


Originally , prince Vladimir wanted to modify the pagan religion to standards of centralized country.


Now , pagan gods like Perun were causing not only the respect , but also a fear.

They used to symbolize will of the governor , compulsion of his orders and inevitability of punishment. For this on Old Kiev Mountain pantheon was created , in which , according to miniatures from Radzivilov annals , gods view were really solemn and terrible.

Also , according to the legend , Vladimir renowned forgotten and unpopular ritual of human sacrifice , to add solemn character in rituals.


But this pagan reform didn’t satisfied ideological requirement of class society and feudal state.


Feudal lord class needed a new religion.

What was good for their interests was the Byzanthium Christianity.

In Byzantium , in difference to Western-European countries , church and it’s attendants were in the power of imperator and were promoting the consolidation of central power.

Most of old pagan religion adepts were from the lower classes of society. People didn’t wanted to leave their previous gods , because they were satisfied by them.

New religion took root violent way in Kiev and other cities.


But new religion quickly took the root , cause of its universality and satisfied ideological requirements of all society classes.

In the beginning mostly Greeks and Bulgarians were the preachers , that were often maximum ascetic.

Main bearers of Christian ideas were churches and monasteries. All the clergy were separated in “white” and “black”. Apart of priest there were many people : co-called “church people” : iegumen and deacon (“white clergy”) , also many other , including smaves gifted to church and invalid people.

Orthodox Christianity don’t have vow of chastity as a doctrine for the white clergy, all the church people were having the families , members of which were also living in churches.

They were judged not by traditional system , but by episcope. Often , ministry was received by right of succession. The upper clergy needed to have high level of education , the lower one , especially that of countryside were needed only to mat read and write.

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