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Birth and growth of puppetry art.

Puppetry is a " highly flexible stage art", which expertises in using puppets, wooden statues and disguised appearances to act in a play on the stage. These art instruments called puppets. These are the material technological foundation of puppetry art and the derivation of fine arts that originated from folkloric theatrical arts.

That the establishment and growth of Vietnamese water puppetry dated back to a time prior to the Great Viet yet to be clearified. However, the puppetry performances in Vietnam from 10th century until present have been proved conclusively by the stone slabs and ancient documents. After establishing in Thang Long, the feudalism in Vietnam was really stable, Vietnamese had the awareness of their self-strengthening and self-supporting. Thanks to the development of palaces and pagodas construction, handicraftsmen were found and had more chances to improve their skills. These, therefore, helped the sculpture and fine arts to be promoted. Community and religious festivals such as inauguration ceremonies, Kings’ birthday stages…were hold in order to praise the great contribution and the power of the Kings. Thus, the puppetry art gained a lot of advantages to be evolved.

As quoted in The Complete History of Great Viet that: " In the second month in Spring, the 12th year of Tan Dau (1021), on the Great Anniversary, bamboo trees were used to erect the South Mount of Longevity at Quang Phuc Gate, upon the mount, figures of bird flying, and wild animals running make the picturesque spectacle with a multitude of aspects, and men are order to imitate the singing of birds and the roaring of animas to please the spectators…" "Bird-puppets" flew, ran and there were men imitate the roar of animals for pleasure. The outstanding features of puppet shows were not different from land puppet shows which were described in Sung Thien Dien Linh stone stele (built on the second year of Thien Phu Due Vu (1121) at Long Doi Son Pagoda (Doi Son, Duy Tien, Ha Nam province)) by Nguyen Cong Bat: " … There were two buildings, where hang golden bells, on which carved a monk novice in a brown robe. He was about to fight but suddenly stood still and bowed down when seeing the Buddies…"

These kinds of Monk novice puppets striking bells and female dancers, wooden puppet beating drum also found in Phan Truong Nguyen poems.

At the beginning of Ly Dynasty (1010-1225), there were male and female puppets striking bells or beating drums.

The most interesting feature is the presence of water puppets. Golden Tortoises, water puppets appeared to tossing on the Red River: "… Golden tortoises bearing the three mounts upon their heads, fluttering in the river flow, displaying their golden shells and showing their four feet. Swimming in the sluggish flow, casting a side long glance to the river bank, ejecting water from their mouths to the shore, looking upwards to the royal diadem, bending down on the water to survey the blue sky, regarding the steep rock in the melodious hymns…" On the backs of golden tortoises, gates were opened in grottoes to let puppets in angels roles appear performing the dance of "wind is coming", singing the "good chance" song, band of rare birds were singing and dancing, groups of deer were tottering.

This golden tortoise stage was pulled up for marching and performing.

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