The premise of Embroideries is that a group of female relatives has just finished dinner and is sitting down to enjoy tea and an evening of conversation and good company. The women sip their tea and discuss all sorts of things. It is just like you’re sitting there with them. These could be the women in my family, telling stories about their experiences as young women, as wives, mothers, friends and confidants. Some of these characters I recognized from Satrapi’s biographical graphic novel Persepolis-namely her mother and grandmother. Like Persepolis, Embroideries is also a graphic novel but the format is a bit different. Satrapi does not use the traditional comic book panels and the drawings are more free-flowing across the page, sort of like the conversation.
The conversation turns to sexual experiences, arranged marriages, and the pursuit of beauty among other things, all of which serve to illustrate their experiences as Iranian women. Their stories are influenced by the social constraints that govern women during this time in Iran and serve as a sort of documentation of sexuality throughout the lifespan. It may seem that these women should be pitied because of their socially imposed silence but they are not helpless nor hopeless. There is something inspiring in their resolve to openly discuss the ways in which they handle these situations. They tell their stories with humor and their ability to be witty displays a strong sense of power.