Many years ago, a friend told me that seeing the Vietnamese water puppets show was not worth anyone’s time. I listened to him, and though I lived quite close to the theatre, it took me many years to see the Vietnamese water puppet performance.
When I went to the Vietnamese Water Puppet Show, I loved it. It was a great cultural experience. Every visitor to Vietnam should go to see the Vietnamese Water Puppets show. This water puppet show is very much a part of Vietnamese culture and history. Here are some aspects of the Vietnamese water puppet show that you may not know about:
Table of Contents
- The Vietnamese Water Puppets Date Back To The 11th Century.
- Vietnamese Call Water Puppets “Making Puppets Dance On The Water.”
- The Vietnamese Puppets Are Carved Out Of Wood And Lacquered.
- Actual Puppeteers Operate The Vietnamese Water Puppets.
- Vietnamese Puppet Show Filled With Symbols Of Vietnam’s Rural Life.
- Vietnamese Water Puppets Show Ingeniousness And Artistic Skills.
- Attending A Vietnamese Water Puppet Show Keeps Ancient Art Alive.
- How To See A Vietnamese Water Puppet Show
- Related Questions
The Vietnamese Water Puppets Date Back To The 11th Century.
The Vietnamese water puppets are an ancient cultural tradition; the puppet show dates back to the 11th century. The puppet shows started in the villages along the Red River in North Vietnam.
Interestingly, the Vietnamese water puppets tradition has withstood the test of time, including Vietnam’s colonization by the French and the Vietnam War, or what they call here in Vietnam the American War. Through all this, the Vietnamese water puppets have lasted as an important cultural art form.
Vietnamese Call Water Puppets “Making Puppets Dance On The Water.”
The Vietnamese word for the Water Puppets is Múa rối nước when translated means making puppets dance on water. That is a wonderful translation that does describe the water puppets.
When you see the water puppet show, the one thing you notice is that the water puppets dance on the water. And how they can gracefully dance on the water is quite amazing. I have personally never seen anything like it before.
The Vietnamese Puppets Are Carved Out Of Wood And Lacquered.
Many years ago, we went to a lacquer factory and visited one of the master water puppet manufacturers. He was in the process of manufacturing puppets for the Water Puppet show in Hanoi.
His puppets were made of wood and used a lacquer that could withstand the water. The puppets are also made with a traditional Vietnamese lacquer technique. If you are interested in lacquer production, you can read Mondoro’s blog by clicking here.
Actual Puppeteers Operate The Vietnamese Water Puppets.
In a world where so much has been computerized or mechanized, it is refreshing to see a show like the Vietnamese Water Puppet Show that is still performing the way it has been for centuries.
Modern-day Vietnamese water puppet shows are performed in a pool about 4 meters deep. Usually, about 8 puppeteers are hidden behind a screen so that you cannot see them as they operate the puppets.
Of course, to add to the show, some modern elements were added to the water puppet theatre. Still, the Vietnamese water puppet tradition’s essence and performance is similar to how it has been performed for many centuries.
Vietnamese Puppet Show Filled With Symbols Of Vietnam’s Rural Life.
Vietnam’s countryside and rural life have always been an essential part of Vietnamese culture, so it should be no surprise that the Vietnamese water puppet show reflects this part of Vietnam.
Though the shows change in the stories, themes, or choreography, many themes run consistently through the Vietnamese Water Puppet shows. Here are some themes:
- The Rice Harvest – Rice is a staple of life in Vietnam, and since rice is so important, many of the water puppets show also reflect the importance of the rice harvest.
- The Everyday Life and Activities of the Vietnamese – The water puppet show will also celebrate the Vietnamese’ everyday life and activities. As the countryside is such an important part of this, much of this will be focused on the rural side of Vietnam.
- Vietnamese National Heroes – Like most countries, they will celebrate some of their National heroes; the water puppet shows are no exception.
- Traditional Vietnamese Songs and Opera – The water puppet shows will also celebrate many traditional songs and operas. This is why the water puppet shows usually have a live orchestra with traditional Vietnamese musicians and traditional Vietnamese musical instruments. Many also have Vietnamese singers performing some traditional songs.
Vietnamese Water Puppets Show Ingeniousness And Artistic Skills.
The water puppets and how the puppet masters can operate and perform these water puppets are really ingenious. The water puppet shows the Vietnamese people’s ingeniousness and artistic skills. The puppet masters can make the water puppets “dance on the water.”
I can imagine how centuries ago, the water puppet shows were like magic to the many communities along the Red River in North Vietnam. It must have been much looked forward to entertainment when the water puppet shows came into the village for a performance.
Attending A Vietnamese Water Puppet Show Keeps Ancient Art Alive.
By attending the Vietnamese water puppet show, you will be supporting and helping to keep the ancient Vietnamese water puppet art alive and flourishing. Without the support of the patrons that attend this water puppet show today, this ancient art form would be lost.
Not only do you help keep this art alive, but you also help to ensure that those who make and support the water puppets as puppet manufacturers, musicians, and singers, keep their art.
If you can think of no other reason to go to see the Vietnamese Water Puppet show, go because it will help support an ancient art form that could otherwise be lost.
How To See A Vietnamese Water Puppet Show
Traveling to Vietnam, the main places to see the water puppet show are in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh. Both of these have excellent shows.
Here are some locations you can see some of the water puppet shows in Vietnam:
Vietnamese Water Puppet Show in Hanoi, Vietnam
The main water puppet show is in the Hanoi downtown area near the Hoan Kiem Lake area of Hanoi; the theatre’s name is Thang Long Theatre at 57b Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
If you are planning to attend the water puppet show, it is suggested that you purchase your tickets first online, as due to the popularity of the show and the tour groups who attend the show, tickets can sell out. You can go to the Viator website by clicking here to purchase some tickets or via Trip Advisor on their website by clicking here.
Click here to find out more about the showtimes and tickets to visit the Thang Long water puppet website. This is the official website of the Thang Long water puppet theatre. If you cannot get the tickets online, visit the theatre to see if any times have changed.
And also, the Vietculture Space – Lotus Water Puppet is located at 16 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. You can also see more information about this show by viewing their website by clicking here.
You can book the tickets directly on their websites for the Vietnam National Puppetry Theatre Shows and the Vietculture Space – Lotus Water Puppet Shows.
Vietnamese Water Puppet Show in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
As with Hanoi, purchasing the tickets in advance on the dates and times you want to see the show would be best. You can buy your ticket by checking out their webpage by clicking here.
If you can see the Vietnamese water puppet show, we highly recommend you see a show. It is a tremendous Vietnamese cultural experience.
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