7 Jan 2016   |   Places

Vietnamese Water Puppetry Floats Very Wooden Stars

With roots that go back to 3,000 BC, the art of puppetry has graced stages worldwide and still manages to lure a crowd around the world, no matter how technologically sophisticated today’s entertainment. Puppets invoke a fairy tale world, and in Vietnam, that world is waterborne.

With origins in the Red River Delta, Vietnamese water puppetry is the only renowned form of this art that’s staged in a pool. After the harvest, farmers would spend free time carving and decorating puppets to resemble traditional Vietnamese characters. With rice as a main staple of the Vietnamese diet, it seemed appropriate to use rice paddies as a physical stagefront. Today, the use of water still stands.

When it comes to design, these puppets are not lacking. Each is carved out of buoyant lightweight wood, and then painted with lacquer for durability. These puppets are not simply objects of performance but remarkable sculptures, as well. 

Below, Justin Mott, one of the most seasoned travel photographers in Asia, captures a close-up. See more of Justin’s images at justinmott.com

Vietnamese Water Puppetry Floats Very Wooden Stars