The concept of water-puppetry is unique to Vietnam, and a traditional water-puppet show is a must for all visitors to the country. This form of art is very entertaining and it is also the ideal way to experience the culture and aesthetics of the country.
The tradition of Water Puppetry evolved in Vietnam way back in the 11th Century. Most of the original concepts of this form of art came from the northern Red River Delta Area and it all began with the flooding of their rice fields and where villages needed a form of entertainment to keep them busy when they could no longer work on the their paddy fields. As normal puppetry was anyway part of their culture, the village folk used the water on the rice fields as a unique form of stage to share their folktales with the others.
Today, just as they have done for centuries, the puppets are made out of wood and their features are emphasized using coloured lacquer paint. But Instead of a flooded paddy field the modern version uses a waist-deep pool filled with water. A large stick is used to support the character on the pool which gives an illusion of characters gliding over water, and the puppeteers remain behind a screen manipulating the scenes. The Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is a leader in this type of entertainment.
Background music is generally provided by a traditional Vietnamese orchestra where the instruments include, cymbals, drums, wooden bells, gongs, horns and bamboo flutes. Each instrument is used to depict a particular mood in the story. Background singing is also used to support the story-telling. And the culture of this water puppetry is such that the puppets are treated like real life beings and there is even impromptu interaction amongst the musicians and the puppets during the show, which makes it even more interesting and entertaining.
A traditional water-puppet show is a must for those visiting Hanoi. They are ideal for all ages and you can easily get a ticket for one of these shows through your Hanoi accommodation
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