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Water Puppetry

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Water puppetry is performed by a group of puppeteers at a stage in water. Puppeteers stand in water at the back of the stage to control puppets to perform items about history and society according to tales and stories.

Reasons for selection

Water puppetry is an original art type of Viet Nam. People use puppets with machines controlled in water to create extremely lively and attractive performing items. This type of art contains many original cultural factors of the Vietnamese, because, through performances, people can make a study of plastic arts, statue carving arts, Vietnamese folk music, etc.

Area where performed

Puppetry is performed in communes, villages, hamlets of the Vietnamese in the Bac Bo (northern part)delta and midlands of the country.

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance, Puppet Theatre

Detailed explanation

Water puppetry is a folk stage which fascinates villagers in the Vietnamese countryside. It is also a performing art type that the Vietnamese people in general like very much.

The characters of this stage type are cute, sweet puppets carefully chipped from wood. Puppets are men, women, children, objects, carts, horses. They are fixed with a rather sophisticated control system which is able to make puppets act very lively. When performing, there will be a folk orchestra to chime with, sophisticated techniques such as fire ejecting, firecracker shooting, etc. on water. The performed items are stories about the history and life of the Vietnamese. Those are stories about the history of the Vietnamese people's struggle against foreign invasion, daily life of villagers such as field plowing, fish catching, duck grazing, weddings. All above-mentioned contents are performed very vividly by puppets.

Where and when do they perform?
Water puppetry is performed at ponds, pagodas, temples of Viet Nam. A number of localities have still kept stages built in lakes. People can also put up stages in any ponds in the Vietnamese native villages.
The times for the performance of water puppetry are the occasions of festivals, feasts in the Vietnamese native villages. It is also occasioned by the Lunar New Year ( Tet ) festivals, or when a village has something joyful to celebrate, it can invite water puppetry troupes to its locality for performance. Audience are civilians in the villages and the surrounding villages who come to sit around the pond bank in order to watch together and encourage the performance.

Water puppetry has already existed in Viet Nam for a very long time now. A style dating back to the Ly Dynasty recorded this type of art. Many water puppetry artisans have been recognised by the State. The State has created favourable conditions for this art type to develop and save it as a precious property of the nation.

Publication and textual documentation

already available

Audio documentation

no information at present

Visual documentation

already available

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

-Water puppetry wards (troupes)station scatteredly everywhere in the Vietnamese native villages.
-The National Water Puppetry Theatre
-The Ha Noi Water Puppetry Theatre
-The Institute of Folk Culture Studies

Data provider

Mr. Ngo Duc Thinh
The Institute of Folk Culture Studies
Address: 27, Tran Xuan Soan, Ha Noi, Viet Nam