WAT E R P U P P E T R Y: V I E T N A M E S E S O U L – TAASA Review December 2008


This article was originally found in the December 2008 edition of TAASA Review (Volume 17, Issue 4, Page 17).

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Vuong Duy Bien A lthough we do not know for certain when water puppetry first appeared, there is an inscription on the stele of Sung Thien Dien Linh in the Long Doi Buddhist temple of Duy Tien district in Ha Nam province which states that, in the spring of 1121, a water puppet performance took place during a festival to celebrate long life and happiness for the King.

From this account we can conclude that water puppet performances were already in existence and well enough developed for a Royal performance by the time that the Doi stele inscription was made. Fire and Water: the appearance of the dragon during the dance of the immortals.

Photo: Bo V Quc Evidence from the Doi stele and some early documents allows us to conclude that Vietnamese water puppets have been in existence for 1,000 years and that the birth place of this cultural form is the area of the Red River delta, encompassing the districts of Ha Noi, Thai Binh, Nam Dinh and environs. Much early research states that water puppetry developed in Vietnam due to the close connection between the abundant water and river systems and the development of a civilisation based on wet rice agriculture...