Water puppets, Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, Hanoi, Vietnam
Guenter Fischer/age fotostock
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.
Add to your collection
For years when traveling I looked for dolls for my neices’ collections. Markets all over the world (even the touristy ones) were that much more interesting because I was on a quest for “that special memento” for my little gals... so whatever you collect you can either find it “there” or have a blast looking for it! (from top left clockwise- Vietnam water puppets in Hanoi, Handmade dolls in Tozuer Tunisia, Matrushka dolls from Peterhof near St. Petersburg Russia, and Dolls for sale in the Upper Town market in Budpest, Hungary)
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.