Bali, religious rugs topics at latest faculty forum

By Kate Pelusi
November 16, 2000

by Kate Pelusi
assistant copy editor

Monkey Dances? Tooth Filing? Mail- order brides? Burlesque Houses?!? Don’t you wish your professors would talk about these things in class rather then their usual lectures?

Well, you might not know it, but these are topics of concern to fine arts professor Dr. Adeline Bethany and Religion professor Dr. Leonard Primiano.

Bethany and Primiano presented their research at the most recent faculty forum. Bethany’s presentation was on her recent trip to Bali and Primiano presented on religious hook rugs.

Bethany traveled to Indonesia to the island of Bali to study the music, dances and rituals of the natives. Bethany explained about the importance of several cultural aspects of the Hindus in Bali such as the importance of sarongs as a clothing item.

She brought her collection of beautiful sarongs and explained the long pieces of fabric that are wrapped tightly around the waist. The women in Bali walk with very small steps, since the sarongs are so tight.

Bethany also explained that a black and white checkered pattern is spiritually very important to the natives. Bethany also said that when she visits Bali and is wearing one of her Sarongs, she is often stopped on the street and complimented, since the pattern of her sarong is very significant.

Bethany also showed a home video of two very important cultural rituals that take place in Bali. The one is called a Monkey Dance and is a large group of men singing simple yet different beats that combine into an interesting and complicated chant.

The second ritual was of a tooth filing ceremony. The people of Bali are against animalistic behavior. An example is that babies in Bali are not allowed to crawl. They are carried until they can walk.

In the tooth filing ceremony, the canine teeth are filed down with very primitive tools.

Primiano’s presentation was about his studies of religious hook rugs and Anne Amede, or Sister Anne, a folk artist from Newfoundland.

Primiano told the story of Sister Anne who offered herself as a mail order bride in order to live in the United States.

However, she was not “sexually compatible” with her new husband in Rhode Island, so she left him and traveled to New York City.

While living in New York City, Sister Anne worked as a burlesque dancer and posed as English royalty.

Sister Anne eventually started a house for girls were she began making religious hook rugs, which are large pieces of burlap with secular or religious themes designed on them. These rugs are sometimes 6-12 ft high.

Primiano lived with Sister Anne for a week to see how she worked as an artist.

Sister Anne died a few years ago. Primiano is in the process of finding out what happened to 18 of her rugs.

When she died, Sister Anne had $100,000 in the bank and $70,000-$80,000 worth of property and had donated $75,000 to charity.

Unfortunately, Sister Anne had hired a dishonest lawyer to handle her money and he has stolen much of her savings.

Once again, two fascinating presentations were held at the most recent faculty forum. Be aware of upcoming forums to attend. You will be enlightened and interested in the studies your professors are conducting.

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Kate Pelusi

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