Water Puppets

57B Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam

While the art of puppetry is common throughout much of Asia, Vietnam has the unique discipline of water puppetry. These puppets are carved from wood and then lacquered to protect them from the water. The stage for a show is a pool of water, with the puppeteers standing behind, hidden by a screen, manipulating and moving the figures with rods and strings. Water puppetry is believed to have originated in northern Vietnam in the 11th century, possibly in the rice fields around the Red River Delta—flooded paddies were the original stages—and themes often explore the daily routines of rural or coastal life or old folktales. Today visitors can most easily catch a performance in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City at one of a handful of well-established theaters.

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Walking On Water

A unique and evocative traditional form of art, water puppetry has been part of Vietnamese culture for centuries and started out as the central form of entertainment in many villages. Nowadays, the art continues to thrive in several venues in Hanoi, many of which stage a number of shows every day. Photo by audrey_sel/Flickr.

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