We express ourselves through many different mediums like writing, music, art and through embroidery.
Hind is fascinated by her aunt’s passion for embroidery. Her aunt Suehyla tells her that embroidery not only makes things beautiful but also tells us stories about how people lived and what was important to them. Hind is delighted when her aunt offers to teach her how to embroider and decides to embroider a small mat for her Mom’s coffee cup.
Aunt Suehyla shows her symbols and motifs in embroidery that depict animals, plants and other items from the surrounding environment.
An imaginary adventure ensues where Hind finds herself in “Embroidery Land” with a red thread spool as her guide.
She meets snakes and lions that look very much the same as the ones she saw on her aunt’s cushions. The thread spool assures her that they will not harm her.
A flock of birds carrying a long stick helps her down from a high tree. A lobster in a hurry invites her to his concert by the lake. There she meets a beautiful swan who sails her around the lake.
The idyllic scene is shattered by the arrival of "Dark Shadow" who proceeds to take over the place by gobbling up all the colorful designs.
Hind jumps to the rescue and threads the needles with different color threads. The needles then work fast and hard to return the colorful designs to where they belong and kick “Dark Shadow “from their land.
Points for discussion:
-An art form is passed on from one generation to the other. Each generation adds to this art form and it all becomes a part of the national identity.
-Some of the symbols in the embroidery are hundreds of years old. Other may come from the interaction of the society with other cultures like the swan and the harp motifs. This shows us that this is a vibrant society that incorporates new ideas and forms into its traditional design.
Example: Palestinian embroidery
-Cherish your traditional products and be proud of them. They inform other of who you are and what your roots are. When we want to tell others about our culture we may wear our national dress, have them listen to our national music and taste our national food.
- Imagination is a great thing. Many times we make up stories about different things we see in our daily life. Have you ever done this? Looked at a picture and imagined yourself in it? Looked at a bird and imagined you could fly? Saw a movie about a super hero and imagined you were a very special super hero?
-Where did the characters in the story come from? How did the writer imagine them?
- There is always danger that surrounds us even in the most beautiful places. In every story there is good and there is evil. How did the writer imagine the evil to be? What did Dark Shadow want to do?
- In the story the flowers and other embroidery motifs represent the culture and “Dark Shadow “represents the threat posed to the culture, as “Dark Shadow” has the ability to erase the colorful motifs and take over their space.
- Discuss how the colorful motifs defended themselves from “ Dark Shadow” to make sure that the danger does not return the colorful motifs realize that they have to stay united and well prepared. This is symbolized here by “making the stitches tight” so they cannot be unraveled easily.
-Discuss how in the story as in life taking the first step is always scary and difficult. Hind decides to take the first step when she takes hold of the edge of the thread to be able to reach her destination. There is an expression in Arabic that explains this which is امسكوا طرف الخيط which translates loosely to “take the first step”
-Giving a gift. Is it better to buy a gift for your mother or make one for her. Which do you think she would appreciate more and why? What did Hind plan to gift her mother?