Masks of Sumatra
In this article I focus on the performance practices of one of Sumatra's little-known mask varieties, that of sakura theatre, performed in the southernmost province of Lampung. I also draw attention to four other Sumatran mask types, namely, those used in funeral ceremonies of the Karo Batak in North Sumatra, mak yong theatre of Bintan, gobang ritual of the Anambas islands, and mendu theatre of Natuna. In order to gain a greater understanding of the Sumatran mask images and to illuminate their use in performance, I first trace the history of Sumatran mask design, sourcing relevant iconographical and archeological data dating back to the migrations to the island in the Dongson era (500- 1000 bce) and the subsequent Hindu-Buddhist period (first to fourteenth centuries ce). The masks' facial features and their functions in Lampung personify animals, gods, demons, and humans and resemble carvings of supernatural beings on Buddhist temple remains throughout Sumatra.