cityinsight / Culture Stories  / Dong Ngu Puppetry to symbolize for Red River Delta Culture
1 Jun

Dong Ngu Puppetry to symbolize for Red River Delta Culture

Located in Ngu Thai Commune, Bac Ninh Province, not very far from Hanoi Capital, Dong Ngu Village is famous for its typical traditional art forms of Northern Vietnam, that is WATER PUPPETRY.

History of Dong Ngu water puppetry

There has been no evidence to prove the origin of water puppetry until now; nevertheless the older villagers often said that this traditional art form came from the late Ly Dynasty. In the centre of Dong Ngu Village situated a traditional puppet room, which is for worshipping the ancestor of Dong Ngu Puppetry. Legend has it that it was the ancestor who has played a significant part in maintaining and handing down the puppet art from generations to others. His death anniversary is taken place annually on 20th January of the Lunar Calendar.

How was the Water Puppet Performed?

Dong Ngu Water Puppet PerformanceAccording to the elder villagers, the water puppet performances were formerly organized during the village festivals in March and April of the Luna Calendar. They also say that whenever a water puppet performance started, the team was required to worship and pray to the puppet ancestor and the village chief. The worship ceremony was headed by a highly-respected puppet team leader. A puppet elder traditionally stood on the roof of the puppet stage’s Communal House to act as the story teller.
Water puppet – traditional art performance of Vietnam

The success of Dong Ngu Water Puppet

Although its disappearance over several decades, Dong Ngu Puppetry has still reached the blooming achievements up to present. Thanks to the Dong Ngu Puppetry Guild, this art forms has been maintained and developed. The Dong Ngu Puppetry Guild has not only took part in many puppet shows and festivals, but also harvest a number of honorable awards. The most outstanding achievements can be named as first prize in the National Water Puppet Festival 2012 in Hanoi, second prize in the Hue Festival 2004, and second prize in Hai Duong in 2011.

Whereas Vietnamese Water Puppets has witnessed many ups and downs, 14 puppetry villages of Dong Ngu have been existed. Dung special occasions, its water puppet art has been performed in local festival. Furthermore, domestic and foreign visitors can easily catch the shows ofDong Ngu water puppet by visiting Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi. Dong Ngu water puppetry features a combination of puppet artistry, folk tales and Quan Ho traditional folk songs.

Documents related to Dong Ngu Puppetry are collected to propose to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for recognizing this art form as a National Intangible Heritage.


Dong Ngu Puppetry is proposed to be a National Intangible Heritage