Vietnamese Water Puppet Theatre: Mua Roi Nuoc

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What is the traditional form of puppet theatre in Vietnam?

mua roi nuroc

When did the revival of water puppet theatre in North Vietnam actively start?


Where do the puppeteers stand while manipulating the puppets?

In water

What are the puppets made of in the Vietnamese water puppet theatre?

Wood and lacquer

How do the puppeteers manipulate the puppets' limbs?

With hidden rods under the water

What usually accompanies the narrators during a water puppet theatre performance?

A small orchestra

What typically marks the beginning of a water puppet theatre performance?

A dance of the dragons and a show of fireworks

Which historical scenes are considered the most dramatic in Vietnamese water puppet theatre?

Famous sea battles

What 11th-century evolution is attributed to Vietnam in relation to water puppetry?

Inventing water puppet theatre

What led to the increase in commercial water puppet performances in Hanoi and Saigon?

Interest from foreign communities

Where are commercial water puppet performances typically staged in Hanoi and Saigon?

In theatre houses with a rubber pond

What kind of orchestra accompanies water puppet performances?

Traditional North Vietnamese orchestra with singers

Study Notes

Mua Roi Nuoc - Vietnam's Water Puppet Theatre

  • Mua roi nuoc is a traditional form of puppet theatre in Vietnam, specifically in the north, which has been revived since the 1980s.
  • Performances are held in small villages near Hanoi, typically at village ponds, with puppeteers manipulating 30- to 40-centimetre-high puppets while standing in water.
  • The performances are arranged in a temporary structure above the water, with a bamboo curtain shielding the puppeteers from the audience.

Puppeteers and Puppets

  • Puppeteers are originally ordinary villagers who manipulate the puppets with rods hidden under the water.
  • The puppets, made of wood and lacquered, have complicated mechanisms to move their limbs and even make a puppet smoke a cigarette.

Performance Structure

  • A performance typically begins with a dance of the dragons and a show of fireworks, followed by Teu, the stock clown.
  • The performance features standard scenes, including those of Vietnamese history, classics, and domestic affairs.
  • Animal scenes, everyday activities, and dramatic scenes of Vietnamese history are also enacted.

Origins and Revival

  • Experts believe that water puppetry originated in Vietnam in the 11th century, and was adopted by China.
  • The tradition was documented and propagated by Western countries and cultural institutes in the 1970s.
  • Today, commercial performances are staged daily in several theatres in Hanoi and Saigon, using a traditional North Vietnamese orchestra with singers.

Global Reach

  • Water puppet troupes regularly tour abroad, making this unique art form known around the world.

Discover the unique tradition of Vietnamese water puppet theatre, known as Mua Roi Nuoc. Learn about its history, revival in the 1980s, and how puppeteers manipulate puppets while standing in water. Explore the cultural significance of this ancient art form.

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