Water Puppetry - Asia Travel & Leisure

Asia Travel & Leisure

Water Puppetry

Water puppetry is a form of folk arts originating in the Red River Delta in the north of Vietnam, dating back in the 11th century. Many town and villages in Vietnam have communal ponds that are perfect stages for these impromptu performances, enhancing the widespread development of the art form. Presently, water puppetry is showed in a pool of water with the water surface being the stage.

The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control them. Thus the puppets appear to be moving over the water. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play.

In ancient Vietnam, the rural Vietnamese believed that spirits controlled all aspect of their lives, from the kitchen to the rice paddies. The theme of the play concentrates on the daily life of rural people and folklores that are imparted from generation to generation, not mention to stories of legends and national history. Above all, water puppetry created a relaxing space for rural citizens in the past; both watching and playing water puppetry was a good way for the local to entertain, escaping from their daily worries and hardworking life.

This art form is unique to North Vietnam and only found its way to the world stage in recent years as a result of normalized relations with the West. During the early 1990s the country's three foremost companies, the National Puppet Theatre, the municipal Thăng Long Puppet Company of Hanoi and the Ho Chi Minh City Puppet Company gained increased international attention. The main venues in Vietnam itself are the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi and the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre in Saigon.

Address: Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre .
Open daily, all year around

Location: 57B Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hanoi

Entrance fee: $3-5/person, purchased at doors