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In Vietnamese puppetry art, characters are various. They can be legendary or mythic such as Ly Thong-Thach Sanh, Son Tinh- Thuy Tinh, Phu Dong…even modern characters such as Ty grandgrandfather, Dragon Boy or an artinerlly-dragging communist soldier. Especially, in a puppet shows, even the plants and animals are given breath and become alive and lively. In other words, the puppetry stage is the place of the greatest imagination. These puppets help to turn "imaginary" into "reality". Thus, many researchers call puppetry art the "wonderful world of childhood".

The earliest record of the water puppetry art was found on Sung Thien Dien Linh stone stele built in 1122 (at the same time of Tong Dynasty in China). There was a passage about "Kim Ngao" (Golden Tortoise): " … Fluttering in the river flow a golden tortoise, bearing the three mounts. Swimming in the sluggish flow, displaying its golden shell and showing its four feet. Casting a side long glance to the river bank, ejecting water from its mouth to the shore, looking upwards to the royal diadem…" (Adapted from Hoang Xuan Han - Ly Thuong Kiet, book II). In Ly Dynasty, Ly Kings always respected for Buddies and took great interest in curious phenomenon relate to dragons. That was the reason why Ly Dynasty titles were bound up with dragons, for example, Long Thuy Thai Binh, Long Chuong Thien Tu, Tri Binh Long Ung, and Chinh Long Bao Ung…

From 1010 to 1225, there were many times special kinds of tortoises were honoured to Ly Kings: three-foot-tortoises, six-face tortoises, white tortoises, five-colour tortoises even praise-words on tortoises’ shells. However, Ly Kings associated them with ordinary animals such as
white birds, white deer, and black deer…

People at that time were keen on tortoises. As for them, despite being slow, tortoises are patient and persistent. They could live not only in water but also on land. Moreover, they could stand hungry, thirsty; they could even carry heavy things and live longer than other animals. It was believed that golden tortoises sent a message from Gods: " In Dao Duong Era, Viet Thuong people dedicated a thousand-year-old golden tortoise to the King. On its shell, there was Khoa Dau character, writing down everything since the beginning of the anniversary. The King order men to dictate and called it Tortoise Calendar…" (Tu Hai, Tortoise Calendar).

Dao Duong Era (2357-2258 B.C) or in Nghieu King and Thuan King, Viet Thuong was official part (known as "bo") in Van Lang (the first dynasty of Vietnam). "Khoa Dau character literal meaning is "tadpole". It is a very old and simple kind of characters used to note down dates, years, soon after calendar". Those evidences prove that, in the past, tortoises were highly respected as Holy Animal, connected with people lives and were regarded as the guardian of the country. (See An Duong Vuong story and Truong Quang Phuc story). Tortoises became Thanh Giang genie (annual festival procession hold in Nhoi village, Thuy Loi, Dong Anh province). The golden tortoise, described in Sung Thien Dien Linh stone stele, has existed for more than a thousand years, is considered Vietnamese friend and guardian.

Ly Kings took great interest in dragon but the people all in good faith greeted newly crowned Kings in a "home-made-fun" way. The appearance of the golden dragon in water puppetry shows proved that this art had long history.

Vietnamese puppetry art was mentioned on Sung Thien Dien Linh stone stele as followed: "…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 are opened in grottoes to let land puppets in angels roles appear, performing the dance of "wind is coming" singing the "good chance" song, bands of rare birds are singing and dancing, groups of deer are tottering…"

In water puppetry art performances, tortoises were not only highly respected as "village guardian genie" but also regarded as "golden grandgrandfather tortoises". Tortoises were usually concerned with mystical stories "bearing the three mounts, showing the four feet" in the theory of anniversary and earth in Taoism. These were suitable with Vietnamese consciousness about peace and prospect in Ly Dynasty. Although there was no dragon, the appearance of tortoise was symbol of good omens. Both people and the Kings were happy, that was when they came as one.

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