Things To Know About Vietnamese Water Puppetry

Water puppetry is one of the oldest traditional practices active in Vietnam. And this tradition is still being practiced. Water puppetry, from the name, means placing of puppets in water and making them dance. This is for everyone. Whether you an adult or a child.

Do you want to learn about Vietnam culture, traditions and custom through the water puppets? This article has you covered.

The origin

It originated from the red river delta, in the northern side of Vietnam, from the wet rice civilization. After long years of peace, calmness, and prosperity; the people of ly dynasty wanted something that could entertain and make them relax.

During the harvest period, there was a public performance of water puppetry to celebrate. After some time, it became a form of entertainment to the royal families. This act was mostly performed in celebrations and anniversaries.

Stage settings

The setting, often the performance is done in a stage of 4 square meters. The modern puppetry is referred to as “Thuy Dinh”. Additionally, a pond, a pool or portable tank is inclusive of the setting. Water is often leveled to the waist of the puppeteers for the convenience.

The artists behind the puppets contribute to the broader success of the setting. They are professional. Plus, they control the creatures with invisible rods which are passed underneath the water. They also have fantastic storytelling skills.

Each performance consists of around 12 to 18 scenes. There are different kinds of scenes like; farming, the dance of fairies, water spurting dragon ad flag raising. The story is often a Vietnamese folktale or mythological tale.

By watching, you get to visualize the culture of the Vietnamese people, especially, the Tonkin culture. Examples include the buffalo fighting’s, cultural surroundings like the banyan trees and the communal houses.

To accompany the scenes are the traditional Vietnamese music like northern delta fork music and cheo. Musical instruments like drums, wooden belts, bamboo flutes horns, and cymbals add to the fun.

For a colorful show, lights are used. At times, fireworks are used at night and the sky at this time is totally adorable.

Nature of the puppets

The puppets are often light and made of wood to enable floating in the water. They are carved into shapes of human beings. The characters represented by them include heroic, legendary or mythical. Most of the puppets look happy, cheerful and are symbolic.

The artists craft them into the desired shape,polish, then decorate them. The most common one is the ‘Chu Teu’. Chu Teu is a traditional Vietnamese name meaning laughter. Just like the name, Chu teu is a funny character possessing a pot belly. It has white and pink completion.

You can rarely miss it in a show. Of all the puppets, Chu Teu is the most popular. Additionally, it’s the most talkative and also cheerful.

Places to enjoy the water puppetry show in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh city:

Ha Noi : Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

Located at 51B Dinh Tien Hoang – Ly Thai To street, Hoan Kiem district, Ha Noi city. This is famous theater.

A total of 6 shows are performed daily. There is a screen that contains English subtitles. You can also request a special presentation. You have to organize yourself early as the place gets filled up quickly.

Nearby shops sell puppets. You can purchase and take them home as souvenirs.

Ho Chi Minh city : Golden Dragon Water Puppet

Located at city centre of Sai Gon (Add: 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street, Ben Thanh ward, district 1, Ho Chi Minh city).

Approximately it has 500- to 600 seats. Shows are held between 5pm to 8:30pm and, each runs for 50 minutes. This place receives both national and international visitors.

Others places to enjoy the show are Hoi An Theatre in Hoi An Ancient Town and Yen Duc village in Quang Ninh.

Traveling to Vietnam without watching a water puppetry show is a sin. Get to experience this unique traditional culture. You wouldn’t regret it!

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