VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Water puppet
MVK 179208
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The object testfies to the mastery of village craftsmen who follow the long tradition of the water puppet theatre in North Vietnam. The troupe of this village performs at the annual performance at the Thay Pagoda where various manifestations of the legendary founder of the water puppet tradition are kept in the form of statues. Therefore, this object manifests the most direct line to the origin of the tradition.

History of the Object
The object was still in use at annual festivals in the village when it was bought, therefore, a copy was produced before it was taken from the village.

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Type
Performance Art 
Materials
Wood 
Measurements
Width 65 cm Height 51 cm Length 82 cm  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Vietnam 
Geography
Vietnam 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; 1980 (app.) 
Function
The water puppet theatre of North Vietnam looks back to a history of more than thousand years. At a performance in the village pond various short scenes follow each other presenting themes from the political and religious history as well as situations from everyday life. Specialised players lead the puppets with long poles under the surface of the water so that only the figurines can be seen. Thus, the figures seem to float freely over the water. This example shows the founder of the tradition, the monk Tu Dao Hanh. He is carried in a Buddha like appearance on a palanquin followed by musicians. 
Acquisition
Bought in the year 2000 during an ethnographic fieldwork south of Hanoi 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
MVK Wien 
Museum
Weltmuseum Wien 
Credit line
 

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