Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Nguyen Van Huyen St, Cau Giay Dist, Hanoi.
Hotline: 0981 20 29 25 - 0981 20 29 22
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Nguyen Van Huyen St, Cau Giay Dist, Hanoi.
Hotline: 0981 20 29 25 - 0981 20 29 22



Water puppet (also known as water puppet game) is a unique type of traditional folk theater art, which was born from wet rice culture. From a folk art, water puppet has become a traditional art, a special creation of Vietnamese people.

Water Imperial - Water puppet stage
Water Imperial – Water puppet stage

The birth of traditional art

Water puppet dance was born more than 10 centuries ago in the Red River delta. This type usually takes place on holidays, village festivals, happy days, Tet holidays, puppets playing games and acting on the water. Water puppetry is also considered a unique cultural intangible culture of the Vietnamese nation.

Due to the unique nature, from the art of folk elements, water puppet show has quickly become the traditional art which can be compared with Tuong, chèo – the high-class arts in the folk music of the nation. Puppet dancing is available in many countries around the world, but the water puppet show is available in Vietnam.

The forerunner of traditional theater art is folk performances. There are many types of traditional theater performances such as water puppet dance, Cheo, Ca Tru, Tuong … It is worth noting that, in the traditional performing arts, Cheo, Water puppetry and Ca Tru are the types of stage performances with the cultural identity of the farmers in the Northern Delta.

Puppets - Main character
Puppets – Main character

The puppet make water puppet unique

The puppet is made of fig wood which is light and can float on the surface of the water. At first, it was chiseled with its own stylized lines, then sharpened, polished and decorated with many different colors to make the character more featured. The shape of the puppet is usually fresh, funny, humorous and highly symbolic.

Controlling machine and controlling techniques in water puppets create the action of water puppets on stage, which is the key to water puppet art. Water puppet control machine can be divided into two basic types. : pole and wire machines are responsible for moving puppets and creating actions for the characters. Control machine is hidden in the water, taking advantage of water power, creating remote control, giving viewers many strange and unexpected things.

The water puppet chamber is a puppet house or a family house that is often set up in a pond and lake with a balanced architecture that represents the home of rural Vietnam.

The water puppet artist stands in the game chamber to control the puppet. They manipulate each pole, rope, jump … or shock the puppet with a wire system arranged outside or underwater The success of the water puppet mainly looks at the movement of the body.

Inside the game chamber
Inside the game chamber

The water puppet stage is the space in front of the game chamber. In the game, the stage was equipped with flags, fans, elephants, parasols, gates … The show was very bustle with lyrics, drums, groping, and chirping of mouse fireworks, ascending firework, firework pieces opening from the flag underwater in shimmering light and fanciful smoke

Dragon's fire-breathing performance
Dragon’s fire-breathing performance

Water puppetry is a skill to manipulate act as a language of expression, water puppetry is attached to music as dance art. Music controlling speed, keeping pace, leading movements, causing air with traditional rhythm plays the leading role of water puppet, water puppet music often uses Cheo or folk songs of the Northern Delta


Diversity from water puppet guilds

Art of water puppet is the indigenous cultural specialties of Vietnam, developed in almost all villages around Thang Long citadel such as Dao Thuc, Dao Xá – Dong Anh District, Nanh Pagoda – Gia Lam, water puppet guilds Thanh Hai – Thanh Ha – Hai Duong and many water puppet guilds  in most Northern Delta provinces.

Famous artists from Thanh Hai guild
Famous artists from Thanh Hai guild

Every 3 months water puppet show at the Ethnographic Museum changes the performances once time to create unique and diverse features in the performance style.

Today, most foreign tourists visit our country to see water puppets at the Ethnographic Museum. The Water Puppet Theater here is filled with audiences every day. For thousands of years, folk performances have become a fascinating art. It can be said that water puppet art is a great success for our Vietnamese culture!

Kid watching water puppet show
Kid watching the water puppet show

The meaningfulness of water puppet

It can be said that the Water Puppet Show is one of the art forms of the village festival, which is a cultural activity with the high community and esoteric creativity of each ward, association, and artist. In recent years, the water puppet show in Vietnam has been concerned and preserved by all levels and sectors such as investment in equipment, setting up performances, organizing festivals, organizing technical transfer classes function, associate water puppet performance with tours, tours, create conditions for performers to serve the people. Artisans are always conscious and practical in order to preserve, promote this unique cultural heritage to domestic and international friends. Let’s spend your weekend to visit the museum to see the attractive water puppet performances!

⇒See more: LongLink Water Puppet Show – A Must- See Show in Hanoi for Foreigners


  • 24/24 Online Support
    0987 20 29 22
  • 24/24 Online Support
    0987 44 66 99