Water Puppet Show - HanoiIn the old days, puppeteers grouped together into guilds. Nowadays, they are brought together in the National Water Puppetry Theatre and various provincial and even private troupes. Every puppet is a piece of real folk sculpture. It is made of wood, painted with water-proof lacquer. The prominent character is buffoon Teu with a plump body and a humorous smile. When the curtain is raised, the merry, arch Teu enters onto the stage and introduces the play.
Puppetry is common throughout the world, but puppetry theatre of Vietnam on water is unique. The art of water puppetry appeared in the Ly dynasty (1010-1225). Vestiges of evidence have been found in several places such as the pavilion on water by the Long Tri lake in the Thay Pagoda, Ha Tay province
Water puppetry was developed in lake and pond-rich areas in the Red River Delta. The surface of water serves as the stage while spectators sit at the edge of water. The puppeteers both male and female stand waist-deep in the water to manipulate the puppets making them move about and even dance on the surface of the water. The water serves not only to hide the puppeteers and strings of the puppets but also to create a trembling stage full of reflection, while providing natural amplification for singing puppeteers accompanied by percussion music and fire crackers.
A considerable repertoire of traditional water puppet plays still get a big hand from the audience. They include the Teu Dance, Buffalo Fighting, Duck Tender Chasing Fox and Chess Playing.