Svanetian legends - more than just a story

Anano Chikhradze | Live the World

November 23, 2022

As you already know, Sv[aneti]( is one of the oldest parts in Ge[orgia]( This place is especially famous for Svans as they are distinctively proud people. They kept their own, Svan language until now and it is transferring from generation to generation by heart.

This part of Georgia is also well-known for its strict “blood taking” tradition when a family member of a victim kills the killer or a family member of a killer. This tradition often led to a long-lasting war between families. For centuries, kings have tried to change this tradition, however even today some Svan families still believe that this is the most fear way to get revenge.

Ch[ristianity]( was spread from the 5th century in Svaneti and it merged with the local traditions and legends.

The myth about Ar[gonauts]( is connected with the gold that was obtained in Svaneti. The natural methods and rules of obtaining gold are still survived and kept there.

One of the oldest traditions that are still kept in Svaneti is “Lamproba.” Svans were making torches (lamprebi) from the oak branches. They explain the meaning of this tradition in different ways. According to the first version, in “Lamproba” tradition, only men were taking part. It was held to find out the exact number of soldiers that each family could provide in case of necessity. On the other hand, Svans believed that by this tradition, they could warm up the souls of dead people.

Svanetian Legend about Dali – a goddess of hunting…

Svans were very good hunters. By their tradition, every man had to hunt on the Caucasian tur before the marriage. That was the best way to check their real strength.

According to their legend, Dali was a goddess of hunting, who lived far, far away, in the high mountains…

She was a very beautiful woman with the golden hair. Dali was a protector of the wild animals and that’s why a hunter who could hunt a wild Caucasian tur was assumed to be a truly gifted hunter. However, sometimes Dali was falling in love with a hunter and she was even helping him in hunting. It was strictly forbidden for the hunter to tell about this relationship to anybody. If he opened this secret, the punishment for it would be death as nothing could be hidden from clever Dali. If she gave birth to a baby from any hunter, this child would be assumed to be the best and strongest hunter in the future.

In the Georgian mythology, Amiran, who stole a flame from the God for people, was a son of Dali and a hunter. As a punishment, Amiran is bonded in the Caucasus Mountains by the chains.

It is very interesting to listen to the old Svans. They tell a lot of interesting and strange stories about Dali. They always mention her name with a great respect. For them, to love Dali means to love hunting. And this is a good sign that hunting will be successful. They even have an expression about a good hunter: “He has Dali.” She is still alive in Svanetian stories and songs.

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