Spotlight on Russia’s Diversity

Features 4 minutes, 11 seconds


FOR lovers of literature, the mention of Russia will bring to mind the names of popular writers that are still widely read to this day such as Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky best known for their works of Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishment respectively.

For dancers or those who appreciate dance in general, Russia is practically synonymous with ballet and is where big names in the field such as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Maya Plisetskaya are from.

It is also where fine art collections can be found in endless galleries, with some of the more well-known examples being the State Tretyakov Gallery or the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow and the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg.

In a nutshell, Russia — with its 17 million square feet of land and home to over 145 million individuals comprising various ethnic groups — is filled with culture, traditions and customs shaped by a rich history in all aspects: religion, dance, art, music, food, literature, and architecture.

For a glimpse of this country steeped in culture and history, there is an ongoing exhibition entitled ‘Russia: Beauty in Diversity’ at the Brunei Waterfront Art Gallery in the capital.

The contents of the exhibition

Upon walking into the exhibition, you’ll discover that one end of the gallery is filled with abundant photos neatly organised to display the various seasons of the country, the animals that are found thriving in these seasons, the stunning mosques and cathedrals, the national folk costumes and even some of the methods as well as ingredients required to make pastries or beverages from the country.

Simply by visiting the exhibition, you’ll learn that animals such as red deer, Kamchatka bear, arctic fox and baby seal can be found in Russia and that there are so many different types of traditional costumes of ethnic groups such as those from Dagestan, the Ossentians and the Karelians.

In addition to this, the exhibition has some physical examples of the blue and white porcelain ceramics known as Ghzel on display. This ranges from teapots to vases to plates, which has absolutely beautiful details and designs relating to the country. The exhibition wouldn’t be complete without the display of one of the symbols of Russia, the matrioshka dolls. Known also as nesting dolls, it is a set of wooden dolls that can be taken apart to reveal smaller versions of the same doll inside.

“The exhibition was well laid out and while it was brief, it gave an interesting look into Russia’s culture. My favourite section would be the mosques, their history and architecture. It made me want to go back and read up more about the history of some of them,” said one of the visitors of the exhibition, Angel Choo.

Another visitor Farihin Hj Ali said that he learned a lot about Russia’s culture through the exhibition, having zero knowledge prior to it. “I was really amazed by all the art and craftsmanship, there’s a lot of variety and detail that goes into making them. The recipes of Russian food that were shared are really interesting and looked delicious. I really want to go to Russia now.”

On the other end of the exhibition, you’ll discover a section dedicated to showcasing the 25 years worth of bilateral ties between Russia and Brunei. It demonstrates the dynamics and growth of the relationship between the two places, showing one of the latest occurrences at the ASEAN-Russia Summit in Sochi where the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, and His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam were present.

“This exhibition can provide a touch on the Russian culture and allow people to understand what Russia is, though it’s only a very small representation of all the different cultures available. If we really presented all of the national costumes, for example, it would occupy the entire exhibition. For me, as a diplomat, the most interesting part of the exhibition is the display dedicated to the development of bilateral relations, which I am here to promote further,” said the Russian Ambassador to Brunei, Vladlen Semivolos.

He went on to say that Islam in Russia is something that’s not very widely known amongst the Bruneian audience as not many know that Russia is one of the biggest countries with a distinctive Islamic legacy.

“We have over 22 million Muslims living in our country and we have over 8,000 mosques and each of these mosques is different from one another. Each one of them is an architectural gem and we have one of the oldest mosques in the world, which was created in the eighth century,” said Semivolos.

“Some of the mosques can accommodate 17,000 worshippers each at one time. We have several big mosques in Moscow that can accommodate 10,000 worshippers. There are very interesting pictures of mosques at the exhibition,” he added, inviting individuals to check them out.

The ‘Russia: Beauty in Diversity’ exhibition ends November 27.

The Brunei Times