Vietnamese Water Puppets

Water puppet performances are a Vietnamese tradition that were originally performed in the rice paddies. We decided to take in a performance at the Than Long theatre in Hanoi.

Most of the scenes were traditional stories like “Fishing” with a humorous bent.

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This scene showed the triumphant return of the University Graduate. Times have changed. I certainly wasn’t carried home in a procession.

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I was curious to see what the scene titled, “Unicorns Play with Ball” would entail. Well, the unicorns didn’t have a horn and seemed to resemble dragons. That being said, they did play with a ball.

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One of my favourite Vietnamese legends so far is the story of the sword of Lê Lợi. The legend says that the Emperor possessed a magical sword that helped him defeat the Chinese. When the war was over, the sword was returned to the Golden Turtle in a lake in Hanoi. That lake is now called ‘The Lake of the Returned Sword’ or Hoan Kiem Lake which is the heart of Hanoi.

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To make all this happen the puppeteers wade in the water and control the different puppets by levers.
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The show, lasting about 45 minutes, was the perfect length of time to get a taste without getting bored.

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