Vietnamese Water Puppets

Vietnamese Water puppetry, or ‘Múa rối nước,(“puppets that dance on water”) is a tradition that originated in the villages of the Red River Delta, Vietnam in the 11th century, and impromptu performance venues took the form of the flooded paddy fields. The puppeteers, standing in a waist-deep pool and hidden behind a screen, support the wooden puppets on large rods, making them appear as if they are moving on the water’s surface.

By Francisco Anzola (Vietnamese water puppets) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Performances were originally performed to satisfy the spirits that were thought to influence all areas of their lives. An orchestra, playing traditional music, accompanies the performance. The orchestra includes drums, vocals, wooden bells, cymbals, horns, bamboo flutes and gongs.  The entrance of royalty may be hailed by the bamboo flute, while drums and cymbals warn that the fire-breathing dragon is about to take the stage. Performances take place in a pool that is 4m square, while up to 8 puppeteers manipulate the wooden puppets (that weigh up to 15kg) from behind a screen made of bamboo, that is decorated to look like the front of a temple.

To see more visit this site: Dragon’s entrance

And to find out more visit: The puppetry home page

2 Comments
  • Stephen
    March 22, 2011

    Remember watching them when I visited Vietnam some time ago. Thought they were excellent. Like nothing i had ever seen before (or since).

    • Fenella
      June 28, 2011

      I am glad that it brought back some vivid memories. This month I have added some other puppets from around the world, that you may find of interest. Take a look to see if they have strings attached! Fenella

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