|One of the most ancient art forms in Belarus is
the religious icon, an elaborately painted likeness of Jesus or one of
the saints. Icons decorate churches instead of statues, which are not allowed
in Eastern Orthodox churches. Icons are also used as centrepieces for home
altars. Over the centuries, images from Belarusian folk art and mythology
have been added to these icons.
Belarusians are also known for their woodcarving of figures with painted faces, as well as boxes and household implements. Brightly coloured ceramic ornaments in the shapes of animals and birds are also popular. Belarusian embroidery is distinctive. It is used to decorate the linen shirts and blouses that are the national and regional dress. In some regions, only red and white threads are used; other regions use many colours.
|Belarus has a strong tradition of folk music.
Typical instruments include balalaikas(triangular-shaped stringed
instruments), accordions, lyres and pipes. Folk music and dancing are an
important part of ceremonies such as engagements and marriages. People
also enjoy comic songs as well as ballads about past heroes. In the last
ten days in November there is a festival of folk and classical music and
dance. One contemporary folk rock group is Pesnyary, which has toured Europe
and North America.
Poetry and theatre have long been important in Belarusian life. There is an annual poetry day in June. Belarus also maintains an ancient tradition of travelling theatres, called skomorochy, in the countryside.
|Yakub Kolas, poet and novelist, and Yanka Kupala,
poet and playwright, are considered distinctively Belarusian writers. Both
Kolas and Kupala were part of a group of writers who contributed to the
influential Belarusian newspaper Nacha Niva (Our Field) between
1906 and 1915. The writers in the Nacha Niva circle wrote about
the harsh life of peasants and recalled the distant past when Belarusians
were masters of their own destiny.
Natalia Arseneva is considered one of Belarus's best 20th-century writers. Beneath the Blue Sky is one of her most well-known works. Vasil Bykau is the country's best-known contemporary writer and an outspoken critic of government. He has been referred to as the "conscience of the nation."Several of his novels, such as Sign of Misfortune and The Ordeal, describe the sufferings of Belarusians during the Second World War.