Karma’s luck has arrived at the digital art market with a splash of kaleido-colored colors and the face of a revered Thai monk who offers a portable Buddhist lucky charm to high-tech buyers.
The sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), virtual images of everything from popular internet memes to original artwork, has swept the art world in recent months, costing millions of dollars at major auction houses. There is also something to win.
“Crypto Amulets” is the latest trend-seeking venture, and founder Ekkaphong Khemthong feels the opportunity of Thailand’s widespread practice of collecting amulets blessed by respected monks.
“I was a talisman collector and was thinking about how to introduce talisman to foreigners and the world,” he told AFP.
Collecting amulets and other small religious jewelery is a popular pastime in Thailand, which is dominated by Buddhists. The capital, Bangkok, has a market dedicated to these lucky merchants.
Blessed by respected monks, their value can increase by thousands of dollars.
Ekkapong wanted CryptoAmulets to have the same traditional rituals as physical works, despite being in digital form. That’s why we approached Luang Pu Heng, the abbot who is highly regarded in northeastern Thailand.
“I respect this monk. I want the world to know him. He is a symbol of good luck in business,” he said.
-Genuine and blessed-
Luang Pu Heng hosted a ceremony last month celebrating a physical replica of a digital amulet showing a gentle image of his face.
When his saffron-clad disciples chanted yellow petals on the altar with portraits and scattered them, he splashed holy water on his face.
One challenge was trying to explain the concept of NFTs to 95-year-old Abbott. Abbott assumed that he would celebrate the physical amulet.
“It’s so difficult that we just tried to simplify it,” said Singapore developer Daye Chan.
“We told him it was like a blessing to a photo.”
Converting amulets into crypto art also means eliminating the usual question of authenticity that plagues amulets sold on the market, he added.
“There are a lot of amulets that are mass-produced … all records can be lost and these physical items can easily be forged,” Chan said.
NFT uses blockchain technology (an immutable digital ledger) to record every transaction from the moment it is created.
“With our amulets, even after 100 years, we can check back the records to see what the blockchain is,” says Chan.
However, the founder, Ekkaphong, was not attracted to the effectiveness of the digital amulet’s karmic compared to its real counterpart.
“They are different,” he said.
In the online gallery of the CryptoAmulets website, various inscriptions are written in Thai around each token. For example, “rich”, “lucky”, “fortune”.
They are priced on Ethereum’s layered system, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, and are currently priced between $ 46 and $ 1,840.
Sales are sluggish ahead of Sunday’s purchase deadline, with only 1,500 of the 8,000 available tokens sold out, with Thais making up the majority of buyers.
Thai chef Theerapong Lertsongkram said he bought the Crypto Amulet in honor of what was blessed by Luang Pu Heng.
“I had some lucky experiences, such as winning small lottery prizes and being promoted at work,” said Theerapong, who works at a restaurant in Stockholm.
“I didn’t know anything about NFTs before, but I respect Luang Pu Heng so much that I decided to buy it,” he told AFP.
However, Wasan Skugit, a fellow collector who decorates the interior of the taxi with a rare amulet, struggles with this concept.
“Amulets need to be physical, something people can have,” he ridiculed.
“I like things that can be hung around my neck.”
© 2021 AFP
Buddhist amulets show Thailand’s entry into the crypto art epidemic
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