Futuristic view of Indonesia with Konstantin Krypopust


As the tourism industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, Indonesia has decided to protect its future by putting its cultural heritage on Web3.C

Sparks from the fire filled the air as the descendant of a 15th century blacksmith clan plunged the tongs holding the alloy of precious metals into the flames. In his forge in the Balinese village of Klungkung, Jro Mangku Yi Wayan Sudiarta looked carefree as he carved sacred symbols into a temple bell. It took the blacksmith-turned-priest 70 hours to create the bell, which was cast from black volcanic soil and molded from gold, silver, copper, zinc and iron. But it was worth the wait. It is said that when a temple bell is rung it creates a sound that contains all sounds. It brings health, prosperity and peace and marks the beginning and the end.

Sudiartha is one of the few blacksmiths left in Bali who can create this sacred bell by hand. However, his legacy is protected not only by his craftsmanship, but also by the fact that he is now one of 11 craftsmen from Indonesia who are helping to protect the country’s past and future by hosting their work on Web3, a new version of the web that includes blockchain technology.

Craftsmen united with Quantum Temple a Web3 platform designed to preserve cultural heritage, and the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism to create Paths to Alangö a collection of NFTs, one-of-a-kind digital assets traded through Web3.

“We saw not only that [спосіб] to preserve the culture, but also to succeed [в майбутньому]”said Muhammad Neil El Himam, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia.

This isn’t the first time artifacts have been turned into NFTs. In the Uffizi Gallery in Florence sold an NFT based on Michelangelo’s Dona Tondo ; while the Shanghai Museum converts several parts of his collection to NFTs . However, this is the first time a country has taken a step towards preserving its history and future by putting its cultural heritage on Web3.

Jro Mangku I Wayan Sudiarta is one of the last blacksmiths in Bali to make temple bells by hand (Image credit: Quantum Temple)

Bali closed its doors to international tourists in March 2020 when the pandemic began and reopened just seven months later. With 80% of the island’s economy dependent on tourism, the island has been hit hard. Quantum Temple founder Linda Adami, who lived in Bali for seven months during the pandemic, saw firsthand the devastating effects of a lack of tourists on the local economy. According to Australian-Indonesian research group, every third person in Bali lost their job.

Adami traveled the island and discovered the work of various artisans, many of whom had to fish or farm to feed their families. While she was there, American digital artist Beeple sold NFTs for $69 million at Christie’s. With a background in blockchain, Adami could immediately see how Web3 could connect artisans in Bali with a new audience and enable them to generate renewable income. By offering their work as an NFT, artists will also receive a percentage of any secondary sales.

Adami met with local communities and the tourism board and discussed the idea of ​​local artisans creating the NFT collection. To ensure authenticity, she also invited anthropologist Steve Lansing to curate the works. Lansing, who worked on Bali’s nomination to UNESCO for its rice terraces believes that this sustainable tourism project could have a greater impact on protecting Bali’s heritage than the successful UNESCO bid.

“This blockchain project provides a source of income and recognition. This is a wonderful thing, and it was missing from the UNESCO program,” Lansing said.NFTs will connect artisans with new audiences and allow them to earn renewable income (Image credit: Quantum Temple)

NFTs will connect artisans with new audiences and allow them to earn renewable income (Image credit: Quantum Temple)

NFT Paths to Alangö include NFT of cultural heritage which capture intangible works such as dances; NFT cultural artifacts , which include tangible works such as a temple bell; and Cultural Experiences NFT , which gives the NFT holder full access to real cultural events filled with rituals and traditions. Depending on the NFT, each will be sold as a single or in larger quantities, but still in limited quantities.

Travelers who purchase NFTs will be able to view the NFT video experience before heading there in real life, and will be able to connect with villagers before they arrive. Indonesia will be able to limit the number of tourists visiting small villages as NFTs are sold in limited quantities, so the travel experience will be one that helps the community rather than hindering it. And if that’s not enough, NFT will also provide a memento when the traveler returns home.

We hope that these NFTs can connect potential travelers with local communities before they come to Indonesia

“We promote conscious travel and cultural preservation, and we hope these NFTs can connect potential travelers with local communities before they come to Indonesia,” Himam said.

To ensure the authenticity of each NFT, rituals can be filmed when the Balinese calendar allows. One such NFT is Galungan, a festival that falls on the 11th week of the Uku calendar when ancestral spirits return home. Adami and the team traveled to the 19th-century village of Penglipuran in southern Bali to film villagers participating in this ceremony, which dates back to the Majapahit Empire (1293-1527). The NFT will give its new owner an insight into this 10-day festival of prayer, feasting and giving through the NFT video, followed by a real-life experience. The closest other travelers can get to this festival in real life is to see the 10-meter-tall curved bamboo poles decorated with offerings that mark the entrance to each house, as they will not have access to locals to guide them.Galungan is a 10-day festival that celebrates ancestral spirits returning home (Image credit: Quantum Temple)

Galungan is a 10-day festival that celebrates ancestral spirits returning home (Image credit: Quantum Temple)

“These are not film sets by any means, this is a process of preservation and archiving, so we really want to showcase the essence of these traditions as if you were there,” Adami said.

Although NFTs have undoubtedly been severely affected by the fall of cryptocurrency in 2022 , the media didn’t experience stellar sales this year. Illustration of NFT CyptoPunk #5588 sold for $23.7 million. Indonesia is hoping to get at least a small portion of the large amount of money that NFTs are raising. Paths to Alangö artists will receive 40% of initial sales and 4.5% of future secondary sales. A portion of the initial sale will also go to a social impact fund for sustainable projects in Indonesia.

The first sale, which took place on March 22, 2023, showed positive signs for the initiative, with a Balinese Dance NFT sold for 53.59 Eth ($96,989.86). Royal Topeng NFT’s choreographer, I Made Bandem, was overwhelmed by the response. Not only was he delighted with the amount raised, but his aim for this NFT is to attract a new generation of traditional dancers. The owner of NFT will not only own this video, but also get to see I Made Bandem perform the dance in Bali.

Meanwhile, Generation Z dancers Kadek Dwi Martini and Ni Kadek Virna Erikayani, who performed a 1920s dance called Cendrawasih (Birds of Paradise), are using NFT to raise funds for the Sebali Village Art House, which preserves and develops traditional Balinese cultures. Dancers who were filmed on one of the country’s black volcanic beaches and Tegalalang rice terrace in Bali, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are acutely aware that if they don’t act, they could be one of the few to specialize in this traditional tradition. dance in the future.

Dwi, a student from Ubud, said: “We have concerns about this. But we hope that people will see this NFT and it will inspire the younger generation [що це може бути процвітаючим способом життя]”.Kadek Dwi Martini and Ni Kadek Virna Erikayani hope their NFT will inspire young dancers (Image credit: Quantum Temple)

Kadek Dwi Martini and Ni Kadek Virna Erikayani hope their NFT will inspire young dancers (Image credit: Quantum Temple)

The Paths to Alangö wants to show that these ancient traditions can still generate income. Sudiartha saw other blacksmiths find new occupations because their remuneration was insufficient. Not only will artisans now be exposed to more potential buyers, but since every NFT sold is a commission, they will be guaranteed money to create the artwork before the work begins. Adami said this boosts craftsmanship, as the fear of running out of stock means some craftsmen resort to creating lower-quality pieces.

Lansing said that level of artistry needs to be recognized. “It elevates their creations to something that needs a curator,” Lansing said. “This is not just handicraft, this is classical art.”

While Quantum Temple plans to expand to Peru and Panama in 2023, NFT’s eco-travel experience for Indonesia will also increase. “It will be like a portal, but with a carefully structured mode of access,” Lansing said. “You can feel good about participating because you’re being held by the hand and guided.”

While some of the NFT collections have already been auctioned and others are yet to be released, the NFTs are already helping to restore the spirit of the participating villagers. When the project was launched in February 2023 at the 10th-century Pura Tirta Empul Water Temple in Bali, local residents performed dances within its historic walls. Adani said the Indonesians working on the project are already seeing a boost to the community.

“Everyone said they wanted to restore the performing arts at the temple in a more regular way because it really brought the community together and made the temple so alive,” Adani said.

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