Ancient show wows crowds

09-09-2021 | 3238

A stunning Vietnamese water puppetry show was held to celebrate this summer's International Festival of Rivers and the Sea.

The Thang Long Water Puppet Troupe of Hanoi performed the age-old craft outside The Sage Gateshead.

The technique was devised more than a thousand years ago in northern Vietnam to celebrate the end of rice harvests, mark religious festivals and at later stages entertain the royal court. Unknown outside Vietnam until recently, the art form provides a glimpse of the cultural life and times of ancient Vietnam - in particular the stories and legends which provided enjoyment and amusement to peasant farmers and fishermen.

The puppetry is a theatrical form in which a rice paddy, river or pond forms the stage. Visitors watched as the puppets, some standing two feet high and weighing up to 15 kilograms, were manoeuvred across the water's surface via a system of underwater poles, rods and strings.

Many are so heavy and complex that two or three people are required to manipulate them. The puppeteers stand waist deep in the water, while they are screened from the audience by a pagoda.

Some of the acts include Dance of the Dragons, Triumphant Return and Dance of the Fairies.