Vietnamese Water Puppetry

Vietnamese Water Puppetry is an ages old art in Vietnam. It's traditions are closely tied to the rural culture and agricultural civilization of rice planting by Vietnamese peasants. The mechanics of the puppets are hidden under the water. Different effects are achieved by the movement of the puppets, water and fire (like a fire breathing dragon). 

According to Vietnamese Artwork: "The puppets are all hand made and hand painted in Vietnam. Each puppet has different function. The old water puppets are special because they all have ages and performance histories. They have been in the shows in many countries. The big water puppets are made of solid wood and covered by lacquer. Each big puppet is a beautiful wood sculpture and painting work. They all have the signature of the artist. Modern, water puppetry is performed in a pool of water with the water surface being the stage. The puppeteers stand behind a screen and control the puppets using long bamboo rods and string mechanism hidden beneath the water surface. The puppets are carved out of wood and very heavy. A traditional Vietnamese orchestra provides background music accompaniment. Singers of Cheo (a form of traditional opera) with origin in north Vietnam sing songs which tell the story being acted out by the puppets. The theme of the skits is rural and has a strong reference to Vietnamese folklore. It tells of day-to-day living in rural Vietnam and Vietnamese folk tales that are told by grandparents to their grandchildren. Stories of the harvest, of fishing and of festivals are highlighted. Legends and national history are also told through short skits. Many of the skits, especially those involving the tales of day-to-day living, often have a humorous twist."

This would be so cool to see - especially at night. For the New Year celebrations in Vietnam, dragon boat racing is a popular activity . I'll bet that the water puppet shows are even more special then too.


  1. Jil, how wonderful, i should love to see one of these shows! I am a huge fan of puppets in all shapes & forms. i had neer heard of water puppetry before!

  2. Ruthie,
    I hadn't heard of it either before I came across it while doing a search on something else. I agree with you, it would be wonderful to see!