Svan with dagger and long smoking pipe. Mestia
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 Mingrelians and Svans had their own census grouping, but were classified under the broader category of Georgian in the 1930s. They are Georgian Orthodox Christians, and were Christianized in the 4th–6th centuries. However, some remnants of pre-Christian beliefs have been maintained. Saint George (known as Jgëræg to the locals), a patron saint of Georgia, is the most respected saint. The Svans have retained many of their old traditions, including blood revenge, although this tradition has been declining over time and 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.