Dao Thuc village, about 20km from the center of Hanoi, is the proud home of Vietnam’s water puppetry. Throughout its 300-year history, the villagers of Dao Thuc have been making major efforts to preserve the art form.
Many residents of Dao Thuc village live a double life. They are ordinary people, with farming and office jobs to make ends meet. But, on certain occasions, they don traditional outfits and stand behind the stage to deliver dazzling water puppetry performances to entertain the audience.
Each puppetry performance tells a Vietnamese folk story about the lives of rural people in Vietnam’s north. Stories can either honor a good deed and the bravery of ordinary people, or criticize social vices.
The cultural values make the stories captivating to the audience, both domestic and foreign.
In an attempt to renovate the age-old craft of water puppetry, new storylines have been developed, including a legend about a magic crossbow at Co Loa Citadel, the brave sacrifice of Vietnam’s air force, and the endurance of Hanoians during 12 days and nights under US B52 bombers, among others.
Despite their busy days and the harsh weather they must endure, the villagers are always ready to perform whenever needed.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has recently listed water puppetry as a national intangible cultural heritage. This was rich reward for the villagers’ endeavor in preserving the traditional art form.- (VNA/VLLF)