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Svan: შვანარ shvanar
Total population
c. 14,000[1]–30,000[2]
Regions with significant populations
 Georgia 14,000[1]–30,000[2]
 Russia 45 (2010)[3]
Predominantly Eastern Orthodox Christianity
(Georgian Orthodox Church)
Part of a series on
Ancient Kartvelian people
  • Music
  • Media
  • Sport
  • Calligraphy
  • Cinema
  • Cuisine
  • Dances
  • Costume
  • Calendar
  • Architecture
  • Mythology
  • Writing system
  • Dialects
  • Grammar
  • Georgian Orthodox Church
  • Christianity
  • Catholicism
  • Islam
  • Judaism
History of Georgia

The Svans (Kartvelian (South Caucasian) language family. In the pre-1930 Soviet census, the Svans were afforded their own "ethnic group" (natsional'nost) category.[13] The self-designation of the Svan is Mushüan, which is probably reflected in the ethnonym Misimian of the Classical authors.[14]


  • History 1
  • Language 2
  • Culture 3
  • Famous Svans 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Distribution of the Svan language in relation to other Kartvelian (South Caucasian) languages.
Svan with dagger and long smoking pipe. Mestia (~1888–1900)

The Svans are usually identified with the Sanni mentioned by Greek geographer Strabo, who placed them more or less in the area still occupied by the modern-day Svans.

In the Russian Empire and early Soviet Union blood revenge (although this tradition has been declining over time, as law enforcement takes hold). Their families are small, and the husband is the head of his family. The Svan strongly respect the older women in families.


Typically bilingual, they use both Svan language. However, Svan is being largely replaced by Georgian, which is the language of culture and education in Georgia.


Svan culture survives most wonderfully in its songs and round dances. Svaneti boasts archaic three part polyphony, known as chordal unit polyphony, with strong dissonant harmonies. Traditional Svan poetry is still not separated from song and has no rhymed poetry. Svans are skillful artists and as Svaneti was widely regarded as the most inaccessible region of Georgia, many items of medieval Georgian state treasury (including the rare manuscripts of the bible) are still stored in Svaneti.

Famous Svans


  1. ^ a b Joshuaproject. Svanetian, Mushwan
  2. ^ a b prachen, Documentation of Endangered Languages)Sdrohter Bekumentation DoDoBeS (
  3. ^ Russian census 2010
  4. ^ Stephen F. Jones. Svans. World Culture Encyclopedia. Retrieved on March 13, 2011: «The Svans are one of the dozen or so traditionally recognized ethnic subgroups within the Georgian (Kartvelian) nation.»
  5. ^ The Svans Kevin Tuite Université de Montréal 1992: «The Svans are one of the dozen or so traditionally recognized ethnic subgroups within the Georgian (Kartvelian) nation.»
  6. ^ Britannica. Caucasian peoples: «The Caucasian peoples ... The southerners, comprising the Georgians, the closely related Mingrelians and Laz, and the Svan, make up the Republic of Georgia and live in western Transcaucasia (the Laz live in Turkish territory).»
  7. ^ R. Wixman. The Peoples of the USSR: An Ethnographic Handbook (p.181): «Svan ... The Svanetians are one of the Kartvelian peoples of the Georgian SSR»
  8. ^ Levinson, David. Ethnic Groups Worldwide: A Ready Reference Handbook. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1998. p 35
  9. ^ Joshuaproject: Svanetian, Mushwan of Georgia
  10. ^ D.N. Ushakov's Dictionary
  11. ^ Modern Dictionary of Russian language. Efremova T.F. 2000
  12. ^ Ethnologue. Language Family Trees-Svan
  13. ^ National population census ZSFSR 1926
  14. ^ History of Georgian Mountein Regions / R. Topchishvili. Available at The National Parliamentary Library of Georgia

External links

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