Under this Asiatic rule Russian art was affected by many influences, not, as before, only that of Byzantium.In the great Mongol empire, which, in the second half of the thirteenth century, stretched from the China Sea to the frontiers of Poland, and from the Himalayas to Siberia, the eastern Mongols had accepted Buddhism, and the western Mongols Islam, so that a current of Chinese, Indian and Islamic-Persian art flowed into Russia.This Eastern Orthodox Church, as it was known, became the next great patron and sponsor of the arts.When, in 988, Prince Vladimir of Kiev adopted Christianity for himself and his subjects, he too began employing Byzantine architects to build his churches, and artists to endow them with magnificent fresco paintings and mosaic art.
The earliest known work of Russian/Ukrainian art is the Venus of Kostenky (c.23,000-22,000 BCE), a mammoth bone carving of a female figure, discovered in Kostenky (Kostienki), dating from the Gravettian culture.
Art historians believe that the Caucasus obtained its artistic know-how and traditions from Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), probably via Lebanon and the maritime trade route into the Black Sea.
Fifteen centuries later, that is around 1000 BCE, the Caucasus and Steppes of southern Russia gave birth to the first of several tribal migrations of Celts into eastern and central Europe.
So instead, religious images were painted on wooden panels (icons), which were typically displayed on a screen separating the sanctuary from the body of the church.
This screen, a feature of Byzantine art, eventually evolved into the iconostasis, an elaborate partition adorned with icons.