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Meghan Nuttall Sayres is a tapestry weaver who has traveled in Turkey and Iran, where she has met with scholars, carpet weavers, dyemasters, and merchants to study the age-old techniques, symbolism, and Sufi poetry that infuse many rugs woven throughout the Middle East. Her debut novel"Anahita's Woven Riddle" has been translated into several languages.

Her most recent fiction is "Night Letter," a companion novel to "Anahita. For more information about the author and this book, including discussion guides, please visit www. Buy at Local Store. Enter your zip code below to purchase from an indie close to you. The beauty was just in the details of the characters, the places, and even the carpets. Oh, how I wish there were pictures of the carpets. This was definitely one of those "quiet" books that I truly enjoyed. Thanks to Misty for sending this to me. I think this got me out of my recent reading funk.

View 1 comment. I loved this book! Although it is geared for "young adults," I found it quite enjoyable. As a knitter, I appreciated the references to dyeing yarn, spinning, knitting, and weaving. I also loved learning about the nomadic tribes that exist in Iran. This was a coming of age novel that was a joy to read. Aug 07, Deby Fredericks rated it really liked it. A great "clean" romance for middle grade and tween girls. Lots of detail about Iranian nomads of the late s and what it meant for them to possibly lose their traditional way of life.

I enjoyed it up til the ending, which felt a bit truncated to me. Jan 04, Annwyn rated it liked it Shelves: did-not-finish. As a 13 year old my attention span wasn't that great and I would like to re-red it again but for now it is a DNF for me. Apr 20, beautywithbooks rated it really liked it Shelves: books-i-own , fantasy , fiction , historical-fiction , religion , culture.

An enjoyable read with colorful story depiction. The book cover itself is beautiful. The title pages and chapter pages have lovely background. Nuttall Sayres was successful in bringing in the colourful picture of the nomadic life of people in the ancient land of Persia Iran. Anahita is a girl who has much interest in posing riddles and solving riddles.

In her day to day life, she keeps playing her riddle games with her father. She also dreams to become a master dyer. One day while posing a riddle to her father and helping him in shearing a sheep, Farhad tells her, that, next year by this time, she will be old enough to wed. And the Khan is interested in marrying her and this will be a prosperous wedding, as this will benefit their tribe. This news makes Anahita anxious, as she is not yet ready to get married.

And the thought to wed the Khan cripples her, as the Khan is much older than her own father and the only good quality she can remember about Khan is that, he is nice to cats. She is reluctant to marry the Khan, also because he was married before and he lost all his three wives to illness. Anahita feels that, the Khan is an awful bore with no sense of humour.

Anahita tries to convince her father with the reasons, why she cannot wed in the next spring. But her father loses his temper and gives his final decision and asks her to start weaving her wedding carpet qali for the dowry. When the qali is complete, you must prepare to marry. Marriage is what gives women value. To be unwed in this world is to be nothing! Anahita is too disturbed by the thoughts of her marriage and that too, with the thought of marrying the Khan.

Then it occurs to her that, she could not live with someone who did not enjoy riddles.

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She feels more confident of this reason to not to get married to the Khan and voicing her though to her father. I will agree to marry when my qali is woven. But I will marry a man who has wit and likes for riddles. Baba, I will weave a riddle into my wedding qali. The man who solves it, I will marry. Entertaining such ideas will foster bad feelings. As one cannot receive such special treatment of choosing her own husband and people in tribe will feel jealous. Even the Mullah will not approve such arrangements.

But Anahita could not come out of the notion that, she deserves to choose her own husband. She decides to voice her thoughts about her marriage to the Mullah. But she is not sure, how positively the Mullah will take her thoughts. And will he make her father understand her concerns. The Mullah gives her a response, which she could not make out, if he is against her wish or supports her. Dokhtaram , this request…is like none. A man who can solve your riddle, you say?

I shall have to ponder this. Meanwhile, the time comes for their tribe to move to the summer pastures. Anahita with her Maman , Mojdeh, walks out of the high walls of the caravanserai , to visit the crowded markets of Mashhad. Mojdeh goes into a booth selling copper vessels. Anahita walks to the stall selling silk carpets. While examining the carpets made from the synthetic dyes in the stalls, she meets a stranger. She even likes the sound of his accent.

But their conversation could not last long, as she had to leave. But Farhad is still doubtful. Their water and migratory privileges will be at stake. When the Khan comes to know about the riddle contest, he is angry. And instead of paying a bride price, he gives an ultimatum to Farhad. He arranges for a school teacher, Reza to start teaching Anahita.

He makes a promise that he will pay twice of whatever he is paid now, if he agrees to educate Anahita. Now Farhad and Mojdeh see the stingy and impatient side of the Khan. Farhad understands the Khan will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He prepares parchments and announced the wedding riddle contest to the entire city of Mashhad. The time comes for the Afshar tribe to return to their village in Hasanabad, as winter approaches. On their way back, Anahita again stumbles on the same stranger in the bazaars of Mashhad. And this time she just gets to know that this man, who has spell bound her with his riddle like talks is from Marv.

But this meeting also does not last long and they have to part in moments. But she does not know to read and write. She just wished if she could read.

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They did not get permission to camp for the customary one day and one night. The caravan had to walk continuously and their livestock withered from the dearth of water. After returning to Hasanabad, Anahita makes herself busy by helping her father with his chores, with the cloth basket in the mosque and spending time with her grand-uncle, the village dye master, learning the secrets to become a master dyer. A rural Madrasa opens in Hasanabad. The school teacher from Mashhad takes this opportunity. He joins the Madrasa as the teacher to teach the people in Hasanabad.

Farhad enrolls himself in the school. And Anahita too starts learning reading and writing the alphabets in the school. Along with all these things, Anahita starts weaving her wedding qali , thinking and keeping in mind her wedding riddle. As her wedding day approaches near, Anahita feels anxious and confused. She is worried, who will solve her riddle in the qali. What will happen, if the Khan solves her riddle? She will have no option but to accept him as her husband. She is not sure, whom she hopes to solve her riddle.

She is not able to decide, who will be more suitable suitor for her: Reza the school teacher, with whom she spend her all days learning to read and write , Arash the stranger she met in the bazaar of Mashhad, who is a Qajar prince of which no one is aware or Dariyoush the neighbour, who was always with her since childhood and taken care of her in all possible ways. What will happen, if a complete stranger, whom she has never met or known, solves her riddle?

On her wedding day, a dozen suitors turn up for the wedding riddle contest including the Khan. The wedding riddle is: which opposing life forces Anahita has woven into her qali? Every suitor present their gets a chance to examine the qali , and give his answer. The Khan gives the documents to Farhad, from the mujtahad , the religious jurists in Mashhad, which gives him the right to arrest Farhad.

As the wedding riddle contest is against civil law. The things I liked in this book: 1 The balance it tries to create between tradition and change. As this story takes place somewhere in , when as per tradition girls had no choice of their own. Their prospective husbands were chosen by their elders in the family.

But here, Anahita gets a chance to choose her husband. And the story they tell through their woven carpets. If you have a love toward poems, you are sure to like it. But if I worship you for yourself alone, grant me then the beauty of your Face. Sep 19, Quincey Hess rated it really liked it. The author weaves the true to life culture and lifestyle of Iranian nomadic tribes into a emotionally appealing fictional story. Throughout the novel bits of this culture are introduced and explained to the reader.

This is prevalent in many of the topics of the book including the challenges the tribe faces, what's expected of the main character due to her station, the religious practices and states of mind that ar Anahita's Woven Riddle by Meghan Nuttall Sayres is an incredibly compelling novel. This is prevalent in many of the topics of the book including the challenges the tribe faces, what's expected of the main character due to her station, the religious practices and states of mind that are upheld, the tribe's main source of commerce and the lifestyle they developed because it, etc This made the book particularly appealing because many, including myself, find it very difficult to learn things if the source material is simply a recitation of facts pertaining to the subject.

The Iranian culture within the book is easier and more enjoyable to learn because it's presented in relation to an engaging fictional story. Something I also appreciated about this novel was it's use of multiple perspectives. Within the book Anahita's the main character's perspective is focused on the most. However, there was a significant amount of passages that were told from the point of view of people within Anahita's life. This keyed the reader in on not only the character of the other individuals written about within the novel, but their thoughts and how they perceive the events of the story.

This allows the reader to have a better understanding of the characters feelings regarding one another and the circumstances they face. Her sense of independence was fostered by her parents and in particular her father and already at such a young age she has made some major contributions to her community. As such, she was completely shocked when her father informed her that she would be marrying the tribe Khan a leader of sorts. Anahita always knew she would have to marry and she respected that as a part of her culture, yet the Khan a man much older than her and whose past three wives have passed away is man she can't help be repulsed at the thought of having to marry.

Despite being the tribe's Khan he is completely unconnected with the tribe's culture and heritage something that Anahita holds dear.

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His arrogance and aggressively forward advances sicken her. Anahita expresses her displeasure at the idea and seeks to convince her father of an alternative. Anahita has always valued riddles and consider them to be a large part of her identity. After counsel from the tribe's religious leader, Anahita convinces her father to allow her to weave into her wedding quasi rug a riddle then hold a competition where suitors would each attempt to guess the riddle. She would marry the suitor who came the closest to to guessing correctly. At least in this she would know her husband would be like minded.

As Anahita undertakes wedding riddle scheme, she finds that her decision might have a much larger impact on both the tribe and herself than anyone could have guessed. Jul 30, Anna rated it liked it. A fairly slow-paced, fairy-tale-feeling story focusing rather strongly on setting: rural pre-WW1 Iran, a period when nomads were being pressured to settle and new ideas were starting to conflict with age-old traditions.

Anahita is an independent-minded girl, but the author did not take it to the extreme that she feels like a 21st-century personality dropped into a period story; she has ideas that conflict with tradition, but she still seems like a person of the time, with loyalties to her family A fairly slow-paced, fairy-tale-feeling story focusing rather strongly on setting: rural pre-WW1 Iran, a period when nomads were being pressured to settle and new ideas were starting to conflict with age-old traditions.

Anahita is an independent-minded girl, but the author did not take it to the extreme that she feels like a 21st-century personality dropped into a period story; she has ideas that conflict with tradition, but she still seems like a person of the time, with loyalties to her family and village and strong sensibilities about her land and culture. She struggles on the brink between childhood and adult responsibilities, and traditional expectations and duties versus her own feelings and desires. To escape an unwanted marriage, she proposes a riddle-contest for her hand, and to her dismay ends up with a string of suitors.

The story focuses on four of these suitors. In any case, she does suffer a fair bit of doubt, second-guessing, and nail-biting over which suitor she wants to win, some of which shows an emerging maturity in her. Readers can easily each have their own favourites they were torn between or hoping for. Overall a decent read for anyone who enjoys novels that focus of setting rather than action.

Feb 18, Shoujo85 rated it liked it Shelves: young-adult , historial-fiction , reviewed , clean-romance. Rating: I liked it… but wanted to like it more 3. The book is very much about Anahita, and she is very self-absorbed. The only things I can see that she has going for her are her good looks those pomegranate cheeks and her skills as a weaver. The first will fade with time and the second is surely only a motive to exploit her for monetary gain. Neither seems like true love to me.

In retrospect, the book seems very drawn out with not much substance. The book itself is beautiful. The cover page, title pages and chapter pages all have a lovely background print and borders. Very pretty. Pet Peeves: The Ending. Or lack of. See spoiler below for details. But instead, when her father mentions the idea to her she is genuinely surprised and horrified.

At first I did feel genuinely sorry for her because of her situation and because of the lack of sympathy, even outright anger she received from her father and others when she expressed her desire to have some say in who she would marry. But as the story progressed and Anahita remained the same selfish, childish girl, my sympathy began to dry up.

Her interactions with her cousin in particular are juvenile and petty and bring out the worst in her. She seems like an immature child, not a young woman ready to marry and start a family of her own. And I was almost incredulous when at the end, once the contest was decided, she's still so small-minded as to be jealous when one of the other suitors shows interest in another woman. Is there a Happy Ending? Not much.

One suitor emerges triumphant and wins her hand, but there is only a brief exchange —observed by an entire village of spectators- in which she speaks only six words to him yes, I counted. The end. Romance Rating: Okayish It seems like the author tried to throw in some extra suitors to fill out the story; in my opinion there was ever really only two suitors who had a real chance. I think the main difficulty was the author had to showcase four main suitors interacting with Anahita and still keep us in suspense as to which man would win, and also which one Anahita wanted to win.

Which made it difficult for me to sympathise with her and also to work out who I wanted to win. At one point I thought the author was going to take the cheating way out and kill off one of the main suitors. A well-written tale about a girl living in 13th century Iran who decides to take her fate into her own hands when she refuses to marry the powerful man who asks for her, and instead declares that she'll only marry the man who guesses the riddle that she'll weave into her qali, a wedding carpet. You get a real feel for the authenticity of the setting, from the smell of the flowers her her dyes to the feel of the wool yarn that she spins.

This is teen literature as it's meant to be. Although there A well-written tale about a girl living in 13th century Iran who decides to take her fate into her own hands when she refuses to marry the powerful man who asks for her, and instead declares that she'll only marry the man who guesses the riddle that she'll weave into her qali, a wedding carpet. Although there are multiple men vying for her hand and she's conflicted about which one she'd like to win, this isn't the usual YA love triangle story.

It reads more like an ancient fable retold. However, I felt that the narrative lagged a bit in the middle, and I found that it took me quite a while to really get into the story. I was probably halfway through before I felt hooked. Still, it's a worthwhile read in the end, especially if someone is looking for more diversity in their reading. The single book that will always hold my heart and name.

I first read it all the way back in middle school, and for me, the dearness of this book has never been questioned. Dec 23, Rayna rated it it was ok Shelves: diverse-women , historical-fiction. Two stars is probably too generous because this book was so boring it took me six months to read.

Yet when I finished it, I just felt that it was okay, rather than bad. Still, it could have been pages shorter without altering anything significant about the plot. I hated Anahita's father. Lucky for Anahita, every man she meets falls in love with her within 30 seconds so she has plenty of suitors when the time comes. Feb 16, Kelly rated it it was ok. Interesting plot line, but too philosophical for me. Jun 19, Sylvia McIvers rated it it was amazing Shelves: historical-fiction , books-i-reviewed. Anahita is a busy, busy, busy.

Anahita's Woven Riddle |

She helps the dye-master find plants for vibrant dyes, helps her mother weave the Persian carpets that Iran is famous for, and helps her father tend the sheep which her tribe herds from place to place in the spring, finding the best grass to graze on. Somehow, she also finds time Anahita is a busy, busy, busy. Somehow, she also finds time to ask a few controversial questions, and everyone in the tribe knows that Anahita is a strong minded young woman.

What can a strong minded girl do when her father says she is old enough to think of marriage? In her tribe, these things are arranged between two fathers. Ridiculous — Anahita has known the fellow forever, and thinks of him as a brother. How can she take control over something she has no control over? How can a modest young woman find a man to suit her personality?

Anahita suggests to her father that she will weave a riddle into the carpet she will weave for her wedding. Whoever can solve the riddle, him she will marry. Her father thinks and thinks. The local imam thinks about it too, and decides that there is a tradition for wedding riddles. On the other hand, the local khan is not amused. He had planned to marry pretty Anahita himself. After all, his third wife recenyly died, and he needs a new one. At a carpet store, he meets a young woman wearing the city style hijab. They discuss the new synthetic dyes — do they color a Persian carpet as well as dyes made of Persian plants?

A poster floats past on a breeze and sticks to his arm. He peels it off and ignores it — something about a wedding riddle. The shah decides to ingratiate himself with the tribe by starting a school — guess who the teacher is? Anahita continues to stir controversy in her tribe, and within her family. Anahita must work hard to resolve all the controversy she stirred up, and think hard to invent a riddle to weave into her carpet. Who will solve the riddle?

Will Anahita be as satisfied with the results as she expected when she first proposed the contest? An excellent book. Sayres takes the reader to a time and place we are not familiar with, and fills in rich details. On one level, it is a romance set in an exotic location Iran that will appeal to readers with its excitement and realism.

Sayres obviously knows and loves the land about which she writes, and her passion translates to the pages in vivid descriptions that allow readers to form lucid mental pictures. This is a rare book where which man will win is actually a question that is not easily answered even halfway through the tale. Sayres is a master of suspense. The novel rises above being simply an entertaining romance, however, by addressing profound questions that teens and even adults must face.

Anahita comes across as a slightly radical character with her requests to choose her own husband or to swim in the male side of the bathhouse because they have deeper pools, and the story obviously encourages readers to take charge of their own destinies. There is a caveat, however—and it is that although one should be allowed to make his or her own life decisions, he or she should never forget that there are others whom their choices could affect.

Anahita’s Woven Riddle

Compassion and generosity should go along with independence. By the end of the story, however, Sayre skillfully reveals why one man should be her yar—her soul mate—instead of the others. Her insight and finesse treating such a complicated topic will doubtless be helpful to young women trying to figure out their own lives.

Mar 25, Brandy Painter rated it liked it Shelves: historical-fiction , young-adult. Originally posted here. I remember why I was interested though. It has the sound of a fairy tale type plot where a girl chooses a suitor based on his ability to answer a riddle she weaves into cloth, but is straight up historical fiction. Historical fiction set in late 19th century Iran. Anahita is indeed an extraordinary girl, one who dreams of a life where she chooses her own destiny.

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She would be con Originally posted here. She would be content learning the secrets of her tribe's dye master and weaving her rugs, but the tribe's khan wants her for his wife. His fourth wife. The previous three are no longer alive. This troubles Anahita, as does her suitor's callous disregard for his people and his bullying ways.

It is easy to admire Anahita for her boldness and her refusal to bow to tradition simply because it is the way it has always been done. At times she is strong willed to the point of petulance so she has weaknesses to make her more real. What I really liked about her character was that she didn't feel at all anachronistic. Change always begins when there are one or two people vocal enough to call for it and her reasons were not born of 21st century thought.