Water puppetry of Nguyen village, Thai Binh province

(VOVworld)- Water puppetry troupes in Nguyen and Dong Cac villages are the most famous in Thai Binh province. Nguyen villagers are proud of their long cultural tradition and secret of making puppets. Puppet artisans are just ordinary farmers.
Water puppetry of Nguyen village, Thai Binh province - ảnh 1

Nguyen or Nguyen Xa village is in Nguyen Xa commune, Dong Hung District, twelve kilometers from Thai Binh province. The village has a long tradition of making puppets and performing water puppetry. Uncle Tue is the character artisans in Nguyen village love the most. Uncle Teu is the representative and soul of the village. Artisan Nguyen Ba Thang, Vice Head of Nguyen Village’s water puppetry troupe, said: “Uncle Teu, like a clown in a Cheo play, is an indispensable character. Uncle Teu is the archetypal Vietnamese water puppetry character”

Water puppetry of Nguyen village, Thai Binh province - ảnh 2

Local elders say that water puppetry emerged in Nguyen village under the Le Dynasty in the 15th century. A water puppetry performance is accompanied by Cheo music and excerpts of Cheo plays. Influenced by the nearby Khuoc Village, which is famous for Cheo, artists in the Nguyen village have mastered Cheo tunes making their water puppetry performances more interesting. Water puppetry performances often take place in the village’s water palace which can accommodate 300 people. The water palace in Nguyen village is one of the most beautiful and modern ones in Vietnam. There, visitors can admire more than 1,000 beautiful puppets of different sizes and learn about how and what materials are used to make them. Artisan Nguyen Ba Thang said: “Previously, both coral and fig wood were used to make puppets, but fig wood is more popular nowadays. We have to choose old fig trees to get solid wood and make puppets when the wood is fresh.”

According to Thang, puppets can be handled either by strings or sticks. String puppetry is flexible but it’s a sophisticated arts: “There are 16 puppetry troupes but none of them perform string puppetry except for Nguyen Xa Village. We perform puppetry just for fun,not for money. This performance, however, affect our health. Sometimes, we have to jump into cold water while performing for the audience.”

Over hundreds of year, the essence of Nguyen village’s water puppetry art has survived up to today. Nguyen Van Thu is a fan of water puppetry: “Only with love for water puppetry, can the villagers preserve the art. Though the art has had its ups and downs, the villagers have never given up pursuing their passion for water puppetry.”

Beautiful and interesting puppetry performance are some of the best attractions in Thai Binh province’s Nguyen village. Seeing is believing!