Water puppet- an exclusive art only in Vietnam

Water puppet- an exclusive art only in Vietnam

Have you ever heard about Vietnamese water puppet show? What do you know about this performing art?

Water puppetry  is a unique performing art derived from rice culture of Vietnam. Today, the puppet is recognized as a traditional art and accounts as high position in Vietnam national theater. Many different kind of puppet can be found in many countries, but water puppet is unique and only in Vietnam.

No one knows exactly when the water puppet appeared. According to many different sources, Water puppet could be advent in the Ly Dynasty (1010-1225) which originated from Red river delta. The Vietnamese farmers, who spend most of their lives for working and living in the rice paddies was the stage for the farmers who spent their days in flooded rice fields to produce the lively creation as water puppetry. Water is the excellent medium as it provides the effects like wave and splashes. Travel to Vietnam

The water puppetry performs the daily activities of the farmers like farming traditions or features around them such as buffalo fighting, fishing, and events or rituals.

Water puppet

Water puppet

The puppets themselves are wooden figures, some with articulated limbs, heads and hands. These puppets-whether it is one figure or more-are attached to a floating pontoon which lies just beneath the surface of the water; and therefore makes the puppets appear as though they are floating across the water. The pontoon is attached to a long pole, which allows the puppeteer to push or pull the puppet depending on the direction of movement needed.
In modern world, water puppetry is performed in a pool of water with water surface being the stage. Performance today occurs on one of the three venues- on traditional ponds in villages where a staging area has been set up, on portable tanks built for traveling performers, or in a specialized building where a pool stage has been constructed. A traditional Vietnamese orchestra provides background music accompaniment. The instrumentation included vocals, drums, wooden bells, cymbals, horns, monochord, goongs, and bamboo flutes. Singers of Cheo (a form of opera) with origin in north Vietnam sing songs which tell the story being acted out by the puppets. The songs tell the story being acted out by the puppets. The musicians and the puppets interact during performance; the musicians may yell a word of warning to a puppet in danger or a word of encouragement to a puppet in need.

Nowadays, Vietnamese water puppet is known across worldwide, many puppet troupes travel within Vietnam and internationally to tell story and perform their traditions. There are four troupes in Hanoi for tourists. The Thang Long troupe located near Hoan Kiem Lake has 4 water puppets show a day.

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