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Water Puppet Theater

water puppet theatre, far east vacation
Water puppet theatre
Water Puppet Theater - Water puppetry is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century CE when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. Today is Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation on the ancient Asian puppet tradition.

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.

This is considered to have originated in the delta of the Red river in Vietnam in the 11th century and the art remains highly developed today in this country. Some of the earliest troupes were found in the Nguyen commune, Đong Hung district, Thai Binh Province.

In ancient Vietnam, the rural Vietnamese believed that spirits controlled all aspect of their lives, from the kitchen to the rice paddies. The Vietnamese devised water puppetry as a way to satisfy these spirits, and as a form of entertainment, using what natural medium they could find in their environment. In ancient times, the ponds and flooded rice paddies after harvest were the stage for these impromptu shows. 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.