Museum of Ethnology

24

Nov
2021

Water Puppet Theater

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Originating in the Red River Delta, and believed to date back almost a thousand years, roi nuoc or water puppetry is one of the most authentic expres sions of Vietnamese culture. In times past, performances were held in villages, using rivers, lakes, or rice fields. Today, they are staged in large water-filled tanks at theaters. Hiding behind the stage, the puppeteers stand waist deep in water and maneuver their wooden charges to the music of a traditional orchestra. Special effects, including fire-breathing dragons, smoke, and fireworks add excitement to the show. The tales are told from the age-old perspective of a peasant culture and feature traditional protagonists and villains such as warrior heroes, corrupt landlords, and cruel rulers.

Ty ba, a popular plucking stringed instrument, used by musicians in many traditional orchestras. Made of light wood, it has four strings on its long neck.

Popular Themes The themes of roi nuoc are usually traditional and pertain to rural life. Mythical beasts in Viet culture such as dragons, phoenixes, and uni corns, feature prominently, as do water buffalos and other domestic animals.

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