These puppets are all hand made and hand painted in Vietnam. Each puppet has different function. The big water puppets are made of solid wood and covered by lacquer. Each big puppet is a beautiful piece of art.
Vietnamese water puppetry has a long history. An inscription on a stone stage in Doi pagoda, Duy Tien district, Nam Ha province, relates in 4036 words a water-puppet show staged in the year 1121 to mark a birth anniversary of King Ly Nhan Tong. Vietnamese water puppetry is an age-old typical and traditional art, closely bound to rural culture and agricultural civilization of rice planting of Vietnamese peasants.
In water-puppet (marinonette sur l'eau) shows there is a very effective combination of the visual effects provided by fire, water, and the movements of the puppets. Under the surface of the water is concealed the whole control system of the show. Calm and serene when fairy figures appear on it to sing and dance, it is agitated by stormy waves in scenes of battle with the participation of fire-spitting dragons.
In the art of water-puppetry one should note the many contributions of such handicrafts as wood sculpture and lacquer work. They all work together to bring out charming glimpses of the Vietnamese psyche as well as typical landscapes of Vietnam
Modern, water puppetry is performed in a pool of water with the water surface being the stage. The puppeteers stand behind a screen and control the puppets using long bamboo rods and string mechanism hidden beneath the water surface. The puppets are carved out of wood and very heavy. A traditional Vietnamese orchestra provides background music accompaniment. Singers of Cheo (a form of traditional opera) with origin in north Vietnam sing songs which tell the story being acted out by the puppets. The theme of the skits is rural and has a strong reference to Vietnamese folklore. It tells of day-to-day living in rural Vietnam and Vietnamese folk tales that are told by grandparents to their grandchildren. Stories of the harvest, of fishing and of festivals are highlighted. Legends and national history are also told through short skits. Many of the skits, especially those involving the tales of day-to-day living, often have a humorous twist.