The nature and the expressional characteristics of spectacular in entertainment

The nature of entertainment in culture as an internally determined mechanism for the world perception and expression of the people, one of the dominants of the national consciousness. National culture as an entertainment module in the global space.

Рубрика Культура и искусство
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The nature and the expressional characteristics of spectacular in entertainment

Nabokova Hanna

postgraduate student, Kyiv National University of Culture and Arts

This article observes the traditional nature of entertainment in the culture as a nation's inner determined mechanism of worldview and self expression, one of the dominants of the nation's consciousness that represent a certain national culture as an integral part of the entertainment modulus within the global cultural and informational space.

This approach foregrounds the individual's potential for progress, realization of creative interests and needs, social adaptation, professional identification and personal growth. The show perception mechanism supposes more colorful and diversified perception of the world, with the participant consciously mastering new life situations, though virtual but nevertheless suggesting new behavior stereotypes.

Keywords: culture, national culture, art, entertainment, entertaining, worldview, self-expression, national consciousness, folk humour tradition, television.

culture expression national entertainment

Набокова Анна Викторовна, аспирантка Киевского национального университета культуры и искусств

Природа зрелищности и особенности ее выражения

В статье рассматривается традиционная природа зрелищности в культуре как внутренне детерминированный механизм мировосприятия и самовыражения каждого народа, одна из доминант национального сознания, представляющего определенную национальную культуру как развлекательный модуль в мировом культурно-информационном пространстве.

Ключевые слова: национальная культура, искусство, зрелищность, развлекательность, мировосприятие, самовыражение, национальное сознание, майданно-смеховая традиция.

Набокова Ганна Вікторівна, аспірантка Київського національного університету культури та мистецтв

Природа видовищності та особливості її вираження

У статті розглядається традиційна природа видовищності в культурі як внутрішній детермінований механізм світосприйняття та самовираженні кожного народу, одна з домінант національної свідомості, яка представляє певну національну культуру як розважальний модуль у світовому культурно-інформаційному просторі.

Ключові слова: мистецтво, національна культура, видовищність, розважальність, світосприйняття, самовираження, національна свідомість, майданно-схематична традиція.

The phenomenon of world culture is rooted deeply in the history of entertainment. The spontaneous combination of material and spiritual factors in life of pre-historic society became determinant for germination of culture as a syncretic fact naturally binding human emotions, will and intellect with environment. The formation of primal entertainment stereotypes was significantly affected by the birth and development of language, as well as emergence of primitive art. Pre-historic hunters drew a picture of the animal they were going to hunt to perform a ritual dance around it - imitating the actions of the hunter on the track of the prey. Another type of this magic dance is known: in latter the dancers wore masks, stylized images of the animals the tribe hunted, copying the prey's appearance and actions.

The ancient Greeks and Romans initiated organized show forms: theatrical play, sport competitions, performances given by strong and deft on circus arenas and hippodromes, etc. For example, the chariot races within ancient Greek Olympic Games were the most popular with viewers, bearing ultimate danger. Shows as a part of Roman culture were meant to distract the citizens from problems and failures in social life. The motto "Panem et circenses" ("Bread and circuses") describes the superficial means of appeasement in Roman public life.

Each of historically specific show type organically fills in definite social culture situation, being in the viewers' demand by satisfying the need of the period and the public. The Roman viewer admired gladiator fights; the Renaissance audience took delight in public executions, while striptease show met the simple taste of early XX century. The modern mass culture is likewise based on low-end folk genres - a certain kind of Nativity play component. For instance, the technogenic erotic media entertainment is equivalent to various peoples' youth flirt stereotypes, such as Ukrainian "vechornytsa". The cosmic, travesty and puppet travesty genres are rooted in Roman "saturnalias" and medieval carnival humor cultures. The musical, culinary and even sport TV shows are in fact "colored" invariants of traditional nundinal amusements.

The phenomenon of entertainment in modern culture has been of an interest both to Ukrainian and foreign authors. To the study "The nature of the show" by an Italian philosopher, aesthete and philosophy historian Antonio Banfi is immanent the unity of expressiveness and aesthetisized integration of audience [1]. According to the judgment of Alexander Konnikov, the entertainment essence of the stage is based on cultivation of unusual impressions, excitement and gamesome psychological atmosphere [10, 37].

In her doctoral thesis the Ukrainian theatre researcher Natalia Chechel observed the stylistic discourse of the Ukrainian entertainment culture as a certain kind of a sign system dedicated to the creative transformation of a person and a the world by the means of the national theatre in its historical and cultural evolution.

While analyzing the genesis of entertainment the Russian scholar Suren Shahumyan emphasizes the fact that each of its components faces the consciousness of the viewer, answering the needs of productive imagination. The stimulus system addressed towards the viewer consists of the spoken word, versatility of gesture, subject environment, numerous dynamic and mechanic effects [17].

The doctoral thesis by the Ukrainian researcher Larisa Naumova constitutes a valuable philosophical analysis of the cultural historical evolution of entertainment as a specific culture phenomenon. The author functionally distinguishes a row of show groups: ritual-mythological shows; the celebration as historically determined syncretisized cultural form; technical screen show as well as show in modern cultural processes [14].

Despite numerous art criticism and culturological researches on the history and modern development of entertainment phenomenon, the scientific problem remains of interest, as will be observed in this article.

The further eclectic interpretation of the word "entertainment" in various cultural and linguistic traditions actualizes its qualification as a notion. The dictionary of the Ukrainian language suggests a few interpretation of the lexeme "entertainment":

1) something that rejoices, entertains a person; 2) something that comforts, soothes a person in misery and grief [5, 621]. The notion "entertainment" has been used in Ukranian since XVIII century as a derivation carbon copy from French (Fr. distraire - "detach, distract"), in its turn deriving from Latin distrahere - "abduce, avert" [13, 134].

We believe that the ancient Roman interpretation of show is closer to the modern interpretation of media entertainment, the product of the latest means of mass communications, indeed, everything demonstrated at the Roman Coliseum (mythological stories, songs, dances, completion games, parties, set- toes and acts of public vice) astounded, disturbed and, at the same time, attracted just as much as the modern ambivalent media product. Nevertheless, both ancient and modern actions can be justly called an impressive show.

The modern mass entertainment is capable of implementing a psychological compensation on several levels: on psycho-physiological - by providing a basic necessary relaxation; on individual psychological - by compensating the deficiency of certain emotions and information; on social psychological and ideological - by inculcating evaluative bearing the person needs for self-affirmation as a personality and as a society member.

The emotional space of a modern person is marked out by diverse, somewhat polar experiences. Excessive consumption of entertainment means with their ability to level polar emotional states can have negative influence on the institutional structure of society. At the same time, rich in content and meaning, ideologically and psychologically staged, mass entertainment triggers the moral and practical activity of society, actualizing its life meaning values.

Since ancient times celebrations and rituals reveal people's love of freedom and the values of its humor culture. The phenomenon of carnival - a special kind of celebration with its parades and dramatized games - is among the most significant to refer to. Carnival as an imagery type and a valued component of medieval renaissance culture is an object of deep study by Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975), a prominent Russian philosopher, literature critic and culture theoretician.

A certain kind of erotic amusements during the year can be found in every nation's practice. Such are, for instance, the Ukrainian traditional "verochnytsas". These parties took place in patriarchal village after the autumn harvest and wedding season on the eve of Great Lent. Vechornytsas were a kind of club for village youth in Ukraine, where young people had fun, met each other to eventually get married. More often than not they turned into a bacchanal feasts, booze, "debauchery, defilement of young women, illegitimate conceiving children" [4, 177]. As states the historian Mykhailo Hrushevsky, "the custom of boys and girls sleeping together at vechornytsas leaves no doubt it was once a very free paring of unmarried youth. This is a fact" [8, 284]. Such efforts to find a pair for the future marital relations were made on St. Andrew's Day and St. Catherine's Day, during Green week and Kupala orgies.

The synthesis of Christianized and pagan culture elements objectified in the functioning of Ukrainian school and folk mysterial theatre with the space centre at the city (or village) square. The dramatic entertainment culture of Ukraine gradually evolved from noble and monastic type to peasant and busker type, then to urban and eventually to castle type - with the centre at a gentle family estate.

The clerical and laical theatre types, united by sacral symbolism of ritual acts, Greek-Roman and Slavic play traditions, transform into the square folk mysterial theatre, single elements of it (den and farce) lasted, though modified, till early XX century [3]. Also the mask, borrowed from carnival tradition, ("Old man", "Old woman", "Priest", "Death", "Goat", etc.) served theatrically in the Ukrainian folk mysterial theatre the same way as in Italian folk comedy (commedia dell'arte), accentuating rather typical and social images, than individual ones.

As proved argumentatively by modern culture historians, the "entertainment zone" of ancient human communities was geographically placed between the cult centre and so called residential zone of the locality, designed for housing and utility buildings. Naturally, it was a place on the outskirts or on the river bank.

It was mainly round dances that took place here - mass folk youth activities where strings of participants walked in circles singing, making moves defined by dramatized symbolic act. In their turn, representatives of ruling society classes, organized immanent entertainment activities. Such was, for instance, the banquet - a ceremonial (or official) dinner, breakfast or supper given in honor of a respectful person or a certain significant event.

An important phase in evolution of entertainment art was emergence and expansion of the cities. It is in the city that contrasts between work and pastime, group and personality, freedom and constraint came out dramatically. Compared to rather monotonous, poor of impressions country life the city environment became a kind of physiological compensation mechanism accompanied with the myth of "eternal feast", permanent entertainment.

We believe the opinion of a modern Russian culturologist Evgeniy Dukov on entertainment as a typical institution of modern industrial and post-industrial society to be entirely true. At that, as the author notes, it is not that entertainment didn't exist in the past - it wasn't accentuated as a material social and cultural value, distinguished as a special sphere of cultural process [6].

In the history of mankind entertainment was traditionally the name for such pastime activities that allow relaxing in civilized form, distancing from everyday worries. At that, in the process of rest a person improves his physiological condition while entertainment means are needed for relieving stresses and tiredness.

As Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), a German philosopher and culture historian, stated, formation of civilized leisure contributed to emerging in different historic periods of theatres, restaurants, circuses, exhibition halls, sport clubs, cinema, etc [2]. Cinema, in particular, expands the scope of perception and eliminates distance, allowing for thorough analysis of reality similar to the work of psychoanalyst. However, in polemics with Kantian treatment of experience on the works by Baudelaire, the researcher comes to the conclusion of the "aura" experience of classical art transforming into a complex of the shock experiences of modern mankind.

Mutually accelerating, the newest technical inventions and art researches determined the birth of mass entertainment industry. In the conditions of post-industrial civilization entertainment means of this sort relax social consciousness, cause weakening of traditional behavior regulators and leveling of aesthetic tastes, at the same time they contribute to emerging of standardized, low and hedonic amusements.

The Dutch historian Johan Huizinga expressed concern on entertainment phenomenon being used more and more for political manipulation purposes [9]. Entertainment, despite its game nature, has transformed into a sort of product, commercial prestigious service, delivered in averaging, non-individual wrapping, with orientation towards mercantile playboy needs.

Replacing "puerilism" (careless, childish attitude), which is aside product of the European decadence, comes so called "pastime civilization" (Jean Fourastie), with dozens of billion dollars invested into. Specialized institutions train numerous showmen, producers and variety artists.

It is only with radical ideological and cultural reorientation that modern entertainment industry will satisfy mass consumer's growing moral and aesthetic needs, contribute to their moral regeneration as active and creative people within social life.

The organization structured entertainment industry includes institutions with pronounced cultural relaxation format: circuses, amusement parks, game zones, zoos, etc. The cultural amusement needs of people are also answered with the help of various show institutions: stationary and mobile theatres, cinemas, concert companies and troupes. Sport show institutions, such as sports halls and clubs, swimming pools, skate rings, etc, are also justly related to entertainment means. Attending of exhibitions, museums and libraries are also often accompanied by concerts and show act. For instance, plays by the Kyiv Dramatic Theatre at Podol are periodically staged in the building of the National Museum of Medicine (art director and chief director Vitaly Malakhov). A series of classical music concerts has recently started to take place there also (organized and conducted by O. Shevchenko). An important component of the modern entertainment industry is the activity of state and private enterprises in local and vacation tourism sphere.

While intentionally perceiving a show (a ritual, a theatrical act, a movie, a military parade or a concert show), a person is physiologically carried over into a virtual world, brighter in colors and more diverse in content that the real one. As a result, the person is naturally drawn towards a wider spectrum of social values, form by the models suggested by society. Each immediate participant of a show borrows certain behavior patterns for it, observing life ideals and stereotypes, consciously masters new life situations. At the same time he learns specific social roles necessary for personality formation and successful functioning within society.

During the process of show perception formation or transformation of a person's value orientation, as well as social culture and even professional orientation takes place.

Entertainment in modern culture is not a trivial individual activity but a special cultural code and metaphoric language mass culture speaks today, so it demands proper studying. Today, people cannot be educated in an old way; they need to be entertained first. The ideal modes of entertainment along with product samples and advertising are carried from TV screens into reality. The research of entertainment as a social communication mechanism actualizes this problem as a perspective field for collaboration of scholars and practical experts [18, 113].

As an essential feature of modern entertainment culture characteristics a Russian art critic Cyril Razlogov stresses its democratic nature: you don't have to be an educated person to enjoy it since it addresses rather emotions of the person's sensual sphere than his mind [16]. Modern entertainment culture is oriented towards mass, multiethnic and multiage audience consolidated by unified emotional reaction to what they see and perceive. However the specified sphere of inner culture is mostly attractive for children and teens due to dominative instinctive perception in conditions of unstable individual mind and art aesthetic taste.

The most popular chronotypes of folk humor tradition are travesty and covert travesty TV shows, such as "KVN" ("Club of merry and quick-witted"), "Gorodok" ("Small town"), "Gentlemen show", "Kamera smeha" ("Humor Camera"), "Skrytaya kamera" ("Candid camera"), "Sam sebe rezhiser" ("I'm my own director"), "Prosnis I poy" (Wake up and sing"), etc. They attract the mass viewer by theatricalization of social life, impersonation art and puppet culture.

The success of "Kamera smeha" and "Skrytaya kamera" TV shows is considerably determined by borrowing from folk humor culture to some extent adapted to fit modern reality. Imitation of traditional spring and summer orgies peeping rituals mixed with nowadays paparazzi journalism elements can be traced behind the screenplay of the shows. "Wherever you may be and whatever you may do non-special agents of "1+1" channel may be watching you", says the official web site announcement.

An actor Andrey Danilko as Verka Serduchka character plays two roles at the same time: of a hypersexual woman and a train attendant, enriching carnival tradition in the style of Luigi Pirandello, one of the greatest authors of modern Italy who incarnated the idea of the masks people wear to escape oppressing reality ("Cosi e se vi pare", 1918, "La vita che ti diedi", 1923, "Vestire gli ignudi", 1922, and especially "Enrico IV", 1922). The comicality of Danilko's characters behavior is defined by pungent satire of the modern Ukrainian social life.

Like other "atavisms" of carnival humor and aesthetic communication culture, modern show-ized audience wants for, first of all, playful ironic-learned interpretation of seemingly simple things. The modern intellectual game shouldn't be perceived as an incarnation of air-built pastime hedonism but rather as an essentially new level of art mastership that roots in "recollection, not incontinence" [12], reaching the depth of eternal values.

Genre segmentation of show business as an integral part of modern entertainment industry is being speedily introduced in Ukrainian TV space. Particularly interesting is the talk show format - as primarily as dialogue, attractive with its fruitful polemic nature. The most valuable in this social culture phenomenon is the pursuit of a grain of truth, certain didactic point, common denominator as a result of opinion clash.

The Ukrainian culturologist Mykola Nedopytansky accentuated and generalized some characteristics of the talk show phenomenon ethic and aesthetic perception:

The attractiveness of talk show is primarily predefined by the effect of mass audience being engaged to discuss a topical problem. Following the show, the viewer subconsciously connects to the dialogue participants: "I could speak like that too", "No, I don't agree with this idea". The studio audience creates and effect of virtual presence while the show is recorded, helping to erase the invisible barrier between the viewer and the participants. The invited volunteers go through politically correct casting with an aim of though-out seating of the guests and creating an engaged moral and psychological atmosphere. Also, the skills of directors and cameramen to catch the thoughtful and concentrated faces contribute to the viewer's empathy.

Television talk show answers the audience need in communication, thus being of a great social value. It is obvious that within certain communicative culture environment it is not always possible to meet a interesting person to discuss a topical matter or to share our worries. Talk show allows us to do it, though virtually. Due to the high communicative properties of talk show public attention to the most important social and political problems as well as subjects of public mind is actualized. Talk show virtually replaces the notorious kitchen gossips of the Soviet era. Furthermore, the communicative nature of the genre contributes to farther democratization of society. While watching a television dispute, the viewer takes up the values of modern communicative culture, becomes freer in speaking out his thoughts. An understanding of consensus value and the need of new opportunity search arises in his mind.

Quite often the authors of such shows add an artificial scandalous property, create "the absurd theatre" situation, which works to inculcate the viewer with the character features not to be proud of: cynicism, two-facedness, slyness, etc, leading to legalization and justification of those in social reality. Psychologists explain the popularity of scandalous talk show features by the audience sub-conscious ambition to act as a judge. At times the common viewer is pleased by taking the position of outside observer of a certain life collision. This may remind of a well-known everyday gossip or pastime chattering. However a stranger's dramatic situation may make a person think about a specific life problem and correct his or her own behavior accordingly. Some television managers see it as the essence of the "TV with a human face" standard. Scandal in talk show is an ambiguous question, the answer depending on the moral and aesthetic culture level. [15].

The success of television product, as Alexander Fedorov states, is largely predefined by the implementation of a row of manipulative instruments:

"Mock vulgarity play";

"Selection" (manipulation of facts);

"Make-up" (a false decoration);

"Projection" (an artificial transfer of qualities);

"Perjury" (referring to false authorities);

"Sticking labels" (groundless accusations or justifications).

Moreover, the efficiency of the above depends, as the researcher observes, on the implementation complexity level. Fedorov points out three levels of that:

- The psycho-physiological level covers the influence of TV entertainment means on the person's emotions;

- The social-psychological, or compensational, level contributes to the creation of wish-come-true illusions by identification of the real people and their characters in the show;

-The informational level contributes to fast obtaining of information, including that of tabooed character;

- Finally, the "aesthetic" level with pseudo-cuturalization of pathogen information can be concomitant in propagation of ultra sexuality, violence, naturalism, etc, recurrence [7, 81].

The consumers of television production are not that different from their predecessors thousand years back. Modern show admirers living in conditions of technogenic civilization invariably desire fairytale happy ends blessed by traditions. That being said, the special success of televisual relaxation is predefined not by its genre and thematic qualities but by the mythological folklore background, programmed for "fairytale" worldview type in multivariate art interpretations that open a vast space for creative improvisation and art reality modeling. It is game that provides this opportunity. The representatives of pop culture understood that clearly. They've mastered the art of mixing the characteristics of environment in the "past-modern" dimensions. The new "rethought archaic" is programmed for the perception of modern people with archetype defined tastes (predictable positive mass consciousness reaction). We preserve the particular qualities (even concealed) of our inner world during the process of impersonation and game. The latter sort of "codes" our individual self, helping to realize who we actually are among the unexpectedly found "debris of the past": an archeologist, an aesthete or an indifferent consumer of certain information [11].

Thereby, the traditional nature of spectacular in culture is defined by vital needs of a human dominating, under the influence of regulated (social-psychological guidance) and non-regulated (environment) factors.

As a result, the potential for the individual's self-cultivation, realization of creative interests and needs, social adaptation, professional orientation and personal growth is built. This is why the phenomenon of spectacular in modern society is justly considered a determined mechanism of worldview and selfexpression of each nation, its proto-informational code and mental archetype, one of the dominants of the nation's consciousness that represent a certain national culture as an integral part of the entertainment modulus within the global cultural and informational space.


1. Banfi A. In: Izbrannoe /Banfi A. - Moscow, Prosveshchenie, 1965. - PP. 92-93.

2. Benjamin W. Vybrane /Benjamin W. - Lviv. Litopys, 2002. - 213 p.

3. Chechel N. P. The Discourse of Style in a Retrospective Survey of Ukrainian Performance and Dramatic Culture. Extended abstract of Doctoral dissertation (Philosophy) / Chechel N. P. - K.: Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, 2005. - 36 p.

4. Davydjuk V. Pervisna mifologija ukrai'ns'kogo fol'kloru / Davydjuk V. - Lutsk. Vezha, 1997. - 296 p.

5. Dictionary of the Ukrainian language. - K.: Naukova dumka, 1977. - Vol. 8. - 928 p.

6. Dukov E.V. Kul'tura: upravlenie, ekonomika, pravo / Dukov E.V. - 2006. - № 3. - РР. 18-31.

7. Fedorov Alexander. Media Education: History, Theory and Methods /Fedorov Alexander. - Rostov: CVVR, 2001. - 708 p.

8. Hrushevsky M.S. Istorija ukrai'ns'koi' literatury /Hrushevsky M.S. - K.: Lybid', 1993. - Vol. 1. - 392 p.

9. Huizinga Johan. Homo Ludens; Stat'i po istorii kul'tury. D.V. Silverstov, Transl / Huizinga Johan. - M.: Progress-Traditsiya, 1997. - 416 p.

10. Konnikov A.P. Mir estrady /Konnikov A.P. - M.: Iskustvo, 1980. - 272 p.

11. Kosiuk O.M. Gra - informacija - komunikacija: genetychnyj roztyn rozvazhal'noi' produkcii' elektronnyh mas-media / Kosiuk O.M. - Lutsk: Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University, 2009. - 236 p.

12. Kosiuk O.M. Rozvagy, produkovani suchasnymy ZMI, u konteksti majdannoi' smihovoi' kul'tury. Ukrai'ns'ka periodyka: istorija i suchasnist' / Kosiuk O.M. - Lviv, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Lviv. National Vasyl Stefanyk Scientific Library, 2003. - №10. - РР. 640-644.

13. Le nouveau Petit Robert. Dictionnaire alphabetique et anologique de la langue francaise. - Paris: Dictionnaires le Robert, 2000. - 2178 p.

14. Naumova L.M. The show as a culture phenomenon. Philosophy aspect. Extended abstract of PhD dissertation (Philosophy). N. Karazin Kharkiv National University /Naumova L.M. - Kharkiv, 2004. - 19 p.

15. Nedopytansky M.I. Zhanrovi novacii' suchasnogo ukrai'ns'kogo telebachennja. available at /Nedopytansky M.I. - [Електронний ресурс]. - Режим доступу:

16. Razlogov C.E. Kommertsiya i tvorchestvo: vragi ili soyuzniki? /Razlogov C.E. - M.: Iskustvo, 1992. - 271 p.

17. Shahumyan S.S. Genesis of entertainment culture from beginning to maturity (XVIII c.) Western Europe and Russia. PhD dissertation : Theory and history of culture /Shahumyan S.S. - M., 2001. - 131 p.

18. Zaharov A.V. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya, 2008. - № 1. - РР.106-114.

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