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Water puppet show
By Hanoi Local Guide


Water puppetry (Vietnamese: Múa rối nước, lit. "puppets that dance on water") is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century CE when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. Today's Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation on the ancient Asian puppet tradition.

The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control them. Thus the puppets appear to be moving over the water. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play.

Múa rối is considered to have originated in the delta of the Red river in Vietnam in the 11th century, and the art remains highly developed today in this country. Some of the earliest troupes were found in the Nguyên Xá commune, Đông Hưng district, Thai Binh province.

In ancient Vietnam, the rural Vietnamese believed that spirits controlled all aspect of their lives, from the kitchen to the rice paddies. The Vietnamese devised water puppetry as a way to satisfy these spirits, and as a form of entertainment, using what natural medium they could find in their environment. In ancient times, the ponds and flooded rice paddies after harvest were the stage for these impromptu shows.

This art form is unique to North Vietnam and only found its way to the world stage in recent years as a result of normalized relations with the West. During the early 1990s the country's three foremost companies, the National Puppet Theatre (Nhà hát Múa rối Trung Ương), the municipal Thăng Long Puppet Company (Nhà hát Múa rối Thăng Long) of Hanoi and the Hồ Chí Minh City Puppet Company (Đoàn Nghệ thuật Múa rối Thành Phố Hố Chí Minh) gained increased international attention. The main venues in Vietnam itself are the Thăng Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi and the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre in Saigon.


11 Reviews of Water puppet show

The art of water puppetry

The art of water puppetry is unique to the areas surrounding the Red River (Song Hong) and not to be missed when you are in Hanoi. It used to be pratised by rice farmers in flooded paddy fields for centuries, and...

Water Puppet Theater

The Water Puppet Theater show is one of the highlights of a trip to Hanoi. Thang Long water puppetry is a traditional art form with distinctive culture identity of Vietnam. It came to existence, developed and...

Vietnamese cultural experience

The ‘Theatre Des Marionnettes Dur L’eau’ is situated at the north-eastern tip of Hoan Kiem Lake and the venue for traditional water puppetry – one of those experiences high on the agenda for...

Water Puppets…Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

If you are spending time in Ha Noi..DO NOT miss this AMAZING performance at the Water Puppet Theater. You will witness a series of “ancient” short stories and legends presented through the use of...

A must see thing!

Water puppetry is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered and...

Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

Water Puppetry is a thousand year old Vietnamese tradition which was begun in the Red River Delta, possibly by rice farmers. The show began with a musical prelude by the orchestra, which sits to one side of the...

Check Out the Water Puppets: Awesome!

Today started out, as I mentioned yesterday, with water puppets!! Apparently, this is a traditional northern Vietnamese art form that's been around for centuries, highlighting peasant themes (which is probabaly...

It’s fantastic

In Hanoi we went to see the Mua Roi Nuoc or Water Puppet Theatre. The show started with the musicians playing a Vietnamese folk song with traditional instrument.Through out the show I did not understand a word as it...

water puppetry is unique to Vietnam

The traditional art of water puppetry is unique to Vietnam, and the Thang Long troupe in Hanoi stages excellent performances nightly. Water Puppetry in Vietnam dates back at least a millenium, and performances...

Surprisingly Entertaining!

At first, I wasn't really enthusiastic about seeing the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Just went here out of curiosity because all the travel guide books and websites recommend this as a must see. And to my...

The story of rural Vietnamese life and of a legend.

I, like many people had read of the Water Puppet Theatre before arriving in Hanoi. It was one of those things which you just had to go and experience for yourself. There are three shows daily; one in the morning,...

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Location Hanoi
Basin countries Vietnam
Properties Festivals, Water Sports
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