Given the importance of the Armenian Church for the national consciousness, it is no surprise that most of Armenia’s cultural tradition stems from its Christian roots. Armenians are very proud of the long artistic tradition in their country. Art that was distinctively Armenian in form first emerged in the early fourth century A.D., coinciding with the introduction of Christianity. Religious icons were favored subjects during that time. Historically, Armenia subsequently had three major artistic periods, which coincided with periods of independence or semi-independence. The classical period, from the fourth to the seventh centuries, was the first, formative period of Armenian art and literature. It started with the conversion to Christianity and ended with the Arab invasion and occupation of Armenia. During this time, distinctive, elaborate stonework and metalwork evolved as well as religious writings.
The 10th and 11th centuries, under the patronage of the Bagratid kings, saw a return to the older art forms but also was a time when artists experimented with new forms, such as frescoes, woodworking, and intricate paintings depicting religious scenes. The Bagratid dynasty provided the security essential for the flourishing of art, architecture, and the construction of large monastic complexes. From the 12th century to the 14th, a new renaissance, encouraged and patronized by large noble families, gave Armenian art its last creative moment. The result was many of the large churches and other structures still in use today.
Film - Armenian film director Sergei Parajanov (1924–1990) was ostracized under the former Soviet system for not following the style of official Soviet realist art. But even without official support, Parajanov managed to create several films—Color of Pomegranates (1969), Legend of Suram Fortress (1985) and Ashik Kerib (1988)—which gained him respect among the leading film producers and directors of the 1960s.
Sports - Armenia has shown some modest success in international sports competition, in part because it is still a very poor country. Its soccer team has participated in the qualifying round in the World Cup and other international tournaments. It also has had some success with wrestling and gymnastics at the Olympic level. While children play soccer, basketball, and tennis after school, men tend to play chess or backgammon in the park. Both of these games are very popular pastimes and are learned at a very young age. Both young and old enjoy watching sports. The most popular events are soccer matches and basketball games.
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