HISTORY AND FORMATION ORIGIN
Water Puppet (or Puppetry) is a unique traditional folk theatrical art form, formed in rice culture. Being a folk art, water puppetry art has become a traditional art, a special creation of the Vietnamese people.
Water puppetry has been born for over 10 centuries in the Red River Delta. This type has been usually performed in festivals, village festival, fun day, New Year's Day, using the puppet to make fun on the water. Water puppet is also considered intangible cultural characteristics of the Vietnamese people. Due to the unique, from a folk art, water puppetry has quickly become a traditional art that can be comparable to the classical drama, traditional operetta which has the high position on the national stage. Puppetry appears in many countries around the world, but water puppetry is only available in Vietnam.
Water Puppet is a unique creation of the residents of the Red River Delta, was created by water recovery work. Water puppetry is often performed on the harvest day, spring day, or in the festival. Through the stories performed by the puppetry artist, the audiences shall feel the nuances of village festival, which are introduced into the ordinary and simple dream.
In the poetic nature, the audiences have a chance to view the art forms including land, water, trees, cloud, wind, fire, also pavilion roof with red tile. It is really a unique blend of art, nature and people. Before officially becoming a theater art, water puppetry was mainly performed by groups in villages, which was "raised" by the enthusiasm of the Vietnamese people.
Soaking in mud and wading in water to make art is not a normal job making people interested in. If the peasants are not close to the water until "living for soaking skin, dyeing for soaking dew", it is very hard to transmit the inspiration to water puppet characters.
CHARACTER AND OPERATION MANNER
Water puppet art has different characteristics with conventional puppetry. One of unique elements of water puppet is to use water surface as the water puppet theater to make fun, drama. The water puppet chamber (water pavilion) is erected in the middle of the pond or lake with balanced architecture, symbolizing the pavilion of Vietnam rural areas.
All puppetry chambers, stage are equipped with flags, fans, elephants, parasol, and votive gate like a reduced pavilion with curved roof reflected on the water surface. Water Puppet stage is the space in front of the chamber. It is really complete only as the show starting and disappears as the show finishing.
Through the performances of traditional water puppetry art, scenes of normal living activities, and reroute spiritual and life practices of Vietnam farmers are shown a clearly.
The water puppets are products of folk wood carvings, rich in realism, rustic, lovely, and lyrical. The shape of the puppets are often fresh and funny, comedy and highly symbolic.
The most typical character is funny-man Teu by portly body, witty optimistic smile.
For a complete puppet, it requires a lot of processes including carving, decorating and so on.
The more complete the puppet is; the better control technique is. Water Puppet is made by good wood heavy and sunk. Therefore, fig wood is the best choice.
The talent of the artists is the freshness, gentleness, optimism, loving life, nature, people by simplicity amplified in cultural art.
Military troubled water though a block of wood or inter clasped are two interlocking parts that are the body and the base. The body parts surfaced as the character, and the base is submerged part of keeping disorder and is well above where the army installed controller for movement disorders. The puppet might be carved in parts or block, and it often has two main parts: body and support. The body part floats on the water surface while the support part sinks in the water to keep the body stay on the surface and attaches control machine to control the puppet.
The Control Technique in Water Puppet is highly valued, creating action on the stage, which is the crux of puppetry.
The beautiful puppet is only valuable in terms of sculpture. The success of the puppet is in the movements of the body and its acts.
The folk artists have relied on the experience and creativity to make a lot of puppet machine. Control machine is hidden in the parasol, taking advantage of water power, creating the remote control and casualty.
Puppetry artists stand in the chamber controlling puppet by pole or wire system. The method to operate puppets is water power and hidden machine.
Originally, water puppet is performed outdoor on the pond, lake, so it needs strong sound to keep the tempo and stir the air show.
The puppetry group often uses folk instruments such as wooden bell, drum, horn and selfish. The puppetry music brings in festival air, affecting both artists and audiences.
The puppetry is close to the music like dance art. The puppetry artists depend on rhythm to control the puppets in much status to link other items.
The French calls the art of water puppetry with charming puppets "Soul of Vietnam fields" and evaluates "With such creativity and discovery, water puppet art is deserved to be listed in the most important forms of Puppet Theater."