The origin of tuồng is still unclear. It is believed that it was imported from China around the 13th century when Vietnam was warring against the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. A famous actor named Lý Nguyên Cát (李元吉) was imprisoned by the Vietnamese. The imperial court asked him to spread his knowledge of Chinese theatre to the children of the elite, thus explaining how tuồng had first had its beginnings in Vietnam in the royal court. Later on, it was adapted to travelling troupes who entertained commoners and peasants.
However, the first one to lay the foundation for the art of tuồng in Vietnam is Dao Duy Tu. Under the Nguyen dynasty which he served for, tuồng reached its highest point and was favored by Nguyen kings. Many great playwrights including Đào Tấn were also in this time.
Tuồng employs the use of stock characters who are recognizable from their make-up and costumes, which are typically very elaborate and extravagant.
Usually, a character's personalities can be revealed through three features: the color of the face, the eyebrows, and the beard.
Color of the face
- Red: dignified, outspoken, and courageous characters.
- White: characters with a beautiful look, usually calm and good-natured.
- Blue: haughty characters - can be applied to both antagonists and protagonists.
- Green: disloyal characters.
- Golden/ Metallic: immortals, fairies, supernatural characters.
- Bone white/ light pink/ grey: adulators.
- Peach cheeks: loyal characters.
- Black and white striped: hot-tempered characters.
- Striped lines with parts painted in red: devils and monsters.
- White eyebrows: elders and fairies.
- Soft, simple eyebrows: good-natured characters.
- Long, curving eyebrows: haughty, arrogant characters.
- Straight eyebrows: hot-tempered characters.
- Short eyebrows: antagonists in general.
- Scowling eyebrows: pessimistic and gloomy characters.
- Long, green/ black beard: scholar-bureaucrats.
- Long, white/grey beard: military generals.
- Red beard: foreign generals.
- Curly, black beard: hot-tempered characters.
- Anchor beard: farmers, woodsmen, and supporting characters.
- Painted beard: glamour boys.
- Transnationalism and Society: An Introduction - Page 267 Michael C. Howard - 2011 "Vietnamese Opera The Vietnamese have a variant of Chinese opera known as hat tuong in northern dialect and hat boi in southern dialect.
- Bobbie Kalman Vietnam: The Culture 2002 Page 8 "Hat tuong is classical Vietnamese opera."
- Theater & Art - Hat boi- 100
- "Đào Duy Từ với công cuộc phát triển hát tuồng, hát bội". daoduytu.com.vn. Retrieved 2017-11-18.
- "Những điều cơ bản về nghệ thuật hát bội" (in Vietnamese). 2017-09-12. Retrieved 2017-11-18.
- Hát chèo
- Cải lương
- Music of Vietnam
- Traditional Vietnamese dance
- Culture of Vietnam
- History of Vietnam
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