In Vietnam treasure of folk art, water puppet is one of the most unique forms. Water stage, puppets actors combining with the light and fireworks effects create attractive and fanciful performances. Water puppetry is characteristics folk art of Red River delta in Vietnam and tied with rice civilization.
Each water puppet ward has its own characteristics, but generally associated with longstanding legends from the time of national building, reflecting daily life and labor of the farmer on the field with worries about disasters and enemy sabotage but still optimistic, love of life. This art appeared about 10 centuries ago by farmers created. So, a water puppet show always describe the everyday work of farmers as grazing buffalo, plowing, fishing or playing (dragon dance, the fairy dance, etc).
Puppet Art in Vietnam has a long history associated with wet rice civilization in North Delta. From single puppet of some individuals developing into puppet wards with many interesting, strange, beautiful plays then performing, holding competitions, and serving the people.
A similar story in the water puppet show: Vietnamese boys breed water buffalo
Water puppet often takes place on holiday, village festivals, happy days, Tet (New Year) holiday. Water puppet is meant that using puppets to act on the water surface, this art form has some different characteristics with common puppet: water surface being the stage called puppet house, font cover back, decorating flags, fans around, etc. On water stage, the wooden puppets are controlled to perform by the people behind the font back through the system pole, rope. Puppets made of fig tree wood, type of light wood, it is easy to float on the water. The shape of puppets are usually fresh and funny.
Tet or the other traditional festivals are big inspiration for bustling water puppet show.
Mr. Nguyen Van Khoe, Nam Dinh water puppet ward, said: "The difficulty of water puppet performing is located under the water, can’t see the rope system. One puppet show has few dozen of rope so the actor must remember which is the rope in front first, which is the rope later. The water is too shallow or too large also not to perform, requiring enough water to control".
The most difficulty of water puppet artists is that they cannot see the rope system.
Water puppet chamber often erected at the middle of ponds and lakes with symmetrical architecture of pavilion roof – a symbol of Vietnam countryside. The water puppet artists stand inside the chamber to control the puppet to play. The puppet show will happen so bustling with lyrics, drums, bell and horn sound, etc. The music used in water puppet shows are cheo (a form of opera originating in North Vietnam) or folk song melody of North Delta. Water Puppet is become an indispensable cultural activity of North Delta people and closed to them from generation to generation.