Water Puppet or Múa rối nước in Vietnamese is a unique art which originated from the Red River Delta in the 10th century. This traditional art form is closely connected with the long-standing spiritual life of the Vietnamese people. There are many kinds of puppet-shows in all the corners of the country, with different kinds of puppets. However, puppetry art has been developed and diversified, as well as popularized, mostly in the northern midland areas, and the plains of Vietnam.
If in the past when the Water Puppet was newly born, the ponds and the rice paddies after harvest were the stage for these impromptu shows. But today, water puppetry is performed in a pool of water with the water surface being the stage. The puppeteers stand behind a screen and control the puppets using long bamboo rods and string mechanism hidden beneath the water surface. The puppets are carved out of wood and often weigh up to 15 kg. A traditional Vietnamese orchestra provides background music accompaniment. 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 theme of the skits is rural and has a strong reference to Vietnamese folklore. It tells of day-to-day living in rural Vietnam and Vietnamese folk tales that are told by grandparents to their grandchildren. Stories of the harvest, of fishing and of festivals are highlighted. Legends and national history are also told through short skits. Many of the skits, especially those involving the tales of day-to-day living, often have a humorous twist.
Where to enjoy a water puppet show in Hanoi?
If you come to Hanoi, don’t miss visiting the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater for an exciting water puppet show which can be performed at 14:00 and 20:00 everyday. But please note that you may be required to pay for additional camera or videl fee if you wish to photograph or film the show.