Vietnamese puppetry art
From the simple beginning of popular folk art, the puppetry performance has become the traditional cultural beauty of Viet Nam.
Over 2000 years of history
Appeared during the reign of the Hùng Kings over 2000 years ago at ceremonial festivities, the puppet show is one of the most appealing types of entertainment of Vietnamese spiritual life in the countryside. It had seen strong growth in the Lý dynasty (11th-12th centuries). In fact, there is currently no document that justifies the origin of puppetry art.
Puppetry art has reached high value of artistic level. More particularly, it has become a cultural feature that makes many foreign tourists love to watch.
The art of Vietnamese folkloric puppetry has been passed from generation to generation with different types, depending on the position of the manipulator, the stage or how to control the puppets :
1/ Land puppetry:
There are many types of puppet performance: Hand-puppets, Pole-puppets, String-puppets, Rod-puppets, ... Most of the scenarios are Vietnamese folktale and legends and often use the familiar characters such as: cu Ti, chu Cuoi; imaginary characters or historical characters. Puppets are usually made of wood and cotton. The scene is decorated according to the type of the puppet and the scenario.
Human arm-puppets & etc.
2/ Water puppetry :
As it is called, the water puppetry performance shows: works and games of the people in the countryside. This kind of show is unique in Vietnam with its own characteristics. It has contributed to the wealth of traditional art and become the pride of national culture.
The stage of performance takes place on a pond - Thuy Dinh in Vietnamese. The puppeteers, standing waist-deep hidden behind a bamboo curtain, manipulate the puppets by a bamboo system associated with strings or rods for each puppet’s movement to be matched to the melodies of the music.
The puppets’s size are about 40-50 cm, decorated in bright color, represent the characters of different social classes (king, princess, farmer, fisherman, ...), the animals of the local life (duck, fish ... ), sacred animals (qilin, phoenix, turtle, dragon) and imaginary characters (the fairies).
The music, is an element of harmoniously linked scenes together. In addition, it can give the audiences a coherent representation, convey the content of each scene. Thanks to the cheo rhythms or folk songs of the North Delta with drums, horns, gongs, wooden flutes, puppets under the control of puppeteers have become more lively and dynamic. All this makes the audiences eager to watch from the beginning to the end of the performance.
The scenario One of the most important factors contributing to the success of the show is the scenario. The art of water puppetry is the origin of the folk games, associated with the peasants. Due to natural conditions and agricultural work, the water puppetry recreates the life in the old days, sings the patriotism, ... Each scene tells us a different story whether it is a Vietnamese folktale or legend with the humorous way of the jester - Chu Teu - the character that represents the opening in most water puppet performance.
Nowadays, the puppet show is more and more "modern". Not only a simple spectacle of craftsmen with the stage and puppets, it prospered and become a harmonious blend of traditional music, smoke effect, sparkle effect and lighting system. All of this makes the show more attractive, but also keeps its traditional features.
Until today, puppetry is still present in many parts of Vietnam. Not only the spiritual values so close, it also conveys the simple dream of the Vietnamese farmers. Through water puppetry repertoires, foreign audiences will certainly understand more about the life and culture in Vietnam.