Water Puppetry

Puppets have always been used to act out stories and fables. In Vietnam, the paddy fields, rivers, canals, lakes and ponds of the northern delta makes water a logical backdrop and a means of artistic expression. It originates directly from the environment and is in complete harmony with nature while retelling myths of history.

The thousand-year-old art of roi nuoc, or water puppetry, is unique to northern Vietnam and easily ranks as one of Southeast Asia's most beautiful and complex art forms. Expert puppeteers stand waist deep at the back of a pond (usually behind a curtain) and use a complicated system of bamboo rods, pulleys and levers to create the illusion that their marionettes are walking on water.

The content of the performances usually depict scenes from rural life and Vietnamese legends, and provide a fascinating (and often highly amusing) insight into the tradition and culture of the peasant farmers and their families who make up the great majority of Vietnam’s population.



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