Vietnam land puppetry is not so popular as water puppetry but the land-puppetry of Tay people in Tham Roc Village, Binh Yen Commune, Dinh Hoa District, Thai Nguyen Province also has its own charms. It has recently been recognized as Vietnam National Intangible Heritage.
The land-puppetry of Tay is also called rod puppetry. Each puppet is about 30-35 cm long and is made of Thung muc wood which is not very hard material; therefore it is easier for the artisans to carve puppets in various shapes and sizes. The head consisting of hair, ears and hats and the body of a puppet are carved together. Wooden hands are connected with wrists. Legs are carved separately and will be attached to the whole bodies.
A set of puppet usually includes 33 characters. The characters range from historical characters, such as kings and mandarins; farmers doing daily activities, such as climbing tree, husking rich etc.; and animals, such as buffalos, dragons, cranes, horses, etc.
The most outstanding feature of Tay people’s puppetry is the technique used to manipulate the puppets. On the stage, they use bamboo rods attached to the back, body and hands of these puppets. Normally, the Tay Troupe includes 12 members, six of them manipulate the puppets, four people play music, an MC and one helps to prepare puppets. The stage for puppet performance is very simple. It may be a lawn or a mound in the middle of the field.