Mon, 06 Oct 2014. Last updated Fri, 19 Oct 2018 15:47
Water Puppet is an art form of Wet Rice Civilization. Due to featured characteristics, from being an art with folk elements, Water Puppet rapidly becomes a traditional Vietnamese art. The unique art can be compared with Tuong singing (a Vietnamese classic opera) and Cheo singing which are the arts having high positions in national theater. The unique folk art has been a should-not-miss thing to see in Vietnam travel.
In Vietnam tours to cultural and historical lands, travelers seem to be allured into the long-lasting and unique features of Water Puppet. Although puppetry exists in many countries, Water Puppet appears only in Vietnam. The art of water puppetry was formed since Ly Dynasty (1010 - 1225). Vietnamese Water Puppet is an outstanding creation of residents in Red River Delta, which was triggered from overpowering and improving water. Water Puppet is often performed during festivals, spring days, and days after harvests. Stories told by artists in the form of Water Puppet make audiences feel the cultural identity of each locality in Vietnam, lifestyle of local people and their simple wishes in life. In the romantic natural atmosphere, audiences have a chance to contemplate a unique art which contains elements of the nature. It is an exclusive blend of art, nature and people. Before becoming a theatric art, water puppetry is an activity in folk guilds scattering in villages and "raised" by local people's enthusiasm.
The distinctive element of water puppetry is using water surface as the stage for puppets' tricks and dramas. House of water puppet is built amid ponds, lakes with a balanced architecture symbolizing the pavilion of rural Vietnam. Through performances of traditional water puppetry, activities of daily life, material and spiritual customs of Vietnamese farmers are expressed obviously. Puppets are products of folk wood sculpture art with both high realism, rustic, loving, and lyrical features. The shapes of puppets are usually fresh, funny, comedic and symbolic. To make a complete puppet, it must undergo many hoops from perforating core to decorating and many stages which the artist cannot ignore. The more beautiful puppets are, the more sophisticated controlling technique is, and the more abundant the ability of express is. The talent of artisans brings a new cool breeze, optimism, and love for the nature and for people through simple things which are amplified and become more artistic. These characteristics make a large number of travelers curious about water puppetry. They adore experiencing and discovering the distinctive art in their Vietnam holidays.
The technique of controlling water puppets is highly evaluated. Creating actions of puppets on water is the crux of puppetry. Beautiful puppets just have values in terms of sculpture. The success of puppetry is mainly the movement of puppets’ body and actions. The folk artisans depend on the experience and creativity to make water puppet machine more diverse. The machine is hidden under the water. Taking advantage of water power, the machine creates a remote control and brings a lot of surprise to audiences. Naturally, it is a work of art taking actions as language expression. Water puppetry always goes with music like dancing art. Water puppet artisans depend on rhythm of music to control puppets, which help connect repertoires. The French called the art of water puppetry with elegant puppets is "soul of Vietnamese rice fields" and assessed: "With creativity and discovery, water puppet should be classified in the most important form of puppet theater".
Todays, in Vietnam tour packages to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, travelers easily have chances to enjoy water puppet shows. In Hanoi, Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is a should-not-miss place if tourists want to admire special shows. The theatre opens everyday with many outstanding performances of water puppet. Meanwhile, in Ho Chi Minh City, tourists can find these shows in Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater. Besides, Water puppet shows are often performed in festivals, such as Giong Phu Dong Festival. Thay Pagoda Festival and Hundred-part Pagoda Festival... Especially in Nguyen Village in Nguyen Xa Commune, Dong Hung District of Thai Binh Province, Water puppet has been developed with many modern plays as "Popular Studies" and "Lo River Victory". Water puppetry is the unique spirit of inhabitants in Red River Delta. Currently, water puppetry has been developed throughout the country and many places in the world, which contributes greatly to promulgation of Vietnam culture. It also affirms its art value in the world. Water Puppet conquers not just the admiration of Vietnamese people but also of the world. The foreign tours have successfully introduced the genre of this wonderful culture, forming a bridge of communication between Vietnam and neighboring countries and the world.