Peter J Claus, head of the department of anthropology in California state university, Hayward is no more. He was 87. For those working in the field of folklore and culture, Claus is not a stranger.
Specifically in Coastal Karnataka, his works are of great importance because he got the Taulava culture showcased at the global level through his research and books. His scientific research on Siri, kinship in Bunt and Nadava community and much more have become guiding light to future researchers.
Born in California, researchers in the coastal part of Karnataka say that Claus could speak perfect Tulu. Dean of Symbiosis Law College Pune Dr Shashikala Gurupura says that he was the first to study various folklore and cultural aspects of Tuluvas. “Personally for me, he has been the greatest inspiration. He is the one who led me into research,” says Dr Shashikala adding that her talks on Tulu folklore is never complete without quoting Claus.
Prof AV Navada, senior folklore researcher, recalling his close association with Claus, says that he was the man who first brought modern outlook into folklore research in the region.
“His love for the Tuluva culture was unmatched. He stayed here from 1966 to 69 and worked for his thesis studying the matriarchal system among the Bunt community members. He received his Ph.D for the same from Indiana University in 1970,” recalls Prof Navada adding that he has to his credit the fame of opening Regional Research Centre in MGM College, Udupi by getting funds from Ford Foundation
. Navada says that around 1987, he translated few of Claus’s articles to Kannada and the same was released by Peter Claus himself.
“The void can never be filled. We have lost a great man,” says Prof Navada, whose upcoming book, again a translation of articles of Claus is soon getting ready for release. Celebrated researcher Prof B A Vivek Rai said, “I have been in contact with Peter J Claus between 1975 and 1995 as he came to our coastal district to study the kinship in Bunts community.
While he was busy conducting research on kinship in Bunts community, he got attracted towards the folklore and culture of Tulu Nadu. Though we use to communicate with each other in English, he loved to speak in Tulu language. When I was the head of Kannada department in Mangaluru University, Peter took classes on folklore for nearly six months in 1988-89.
Though Mangalore University arranged a guesthouse for him, he refused to stay in guest house saying that he wants to stay in hut. Hence, I had arranged a small house, belonging to my father-in-law at Belma village, which is around 5 km away from Mangaluru University.
” He adds that when he was the vice chancellor of Hampi University, he invited Claus to deliver a lecture in 2005. “We both started an English Journal ‘Karnataka Folklore Newsletter’ in which we were working as editors,” recalled Rai.
Unfortunately, his health prevented him from doing any further work in the recent years in his beloved field. His death is great loss to our Tulu Nadu, says Rai.