On Oct. 29, China’s Hubei Provincial Museum sold out all 10,000 digital pieces of the famous Sword of Goujian, a tin bronze sword owned about 2,500 years ago by the Chinese King Goujian of the Yue Kingdom (2032 to 222 B.C.).

The digitized sword is a detailed 3D model, allowing buyers to zoom, rotate, and view the fine prints and patterns. Wang Xianfu, the deputy director of the museum, told local news that digital arts can help promote traditional culture and allow people to study artifacts both online and offline.

Launched on an Alipay mini-program, AntChain Fan Points, the digital Goujian sword is one example of Chinese museums and galleries seeking blockchain tech to popularize prized ancient Chinese artifacts.

A picture of the Sword of Goujian. (Image Credit: Hubei Provincial Museum)

As the technology brand under Ant Group, AntChain offers innovative digital solutions built on technologies such as secure computation, Internet of things (IoT), and blockchain. In late October, it launched a new initiative called the Treasure Project, helping museums and galleries to publish and distribute selected collections in digital forms on its blockchain platform.

Now, museums that are owners of intellectual property, such as the Forbidden City’s Palace Museum and Hunan Provincial Museum, are working with AntChain to digitize their valuable holdings. Integrating technologies such as 3D modeling, IoT, and augmented reality, AntChain is also developing more interactive forms of these digital collections, letting users talk or engage with the digital arts.

Exploring how to make collections more attractive to the mobile-savvy younger generation, museums and galleries in China recognized this new trend not too long ago. In late June, Dunhuang Research Academy first worked with AntChain and issued two styles of digital artwork inspired by ancient murals in Dunhuang, a site in Gansu province known for exquisite paintings on cave walls. Buyers can set the artwork as a background for the payment interface in the Alipay app. Each reproduction was limited to 8,000 pieces and priced at 10 Alipay membership points and RMB 9.9 apiece.

Unlike the non-fungible token (NFT) trading craze elsewhere, in China, NFTs are viewed more as a form of technology derived from blockchain, rather than tradable digital assets. NFTs can host a unique piece of digital information on a blockchain that represents specific photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files. As each NFT is unique with an immutable and traceable ID, owners can easily prove and enjoy the copyrights they have.

Tech companies in China are exploring how NFT technology can benefit industries while discouraging speculative activities. According to Jiang Guofei, president of Intelligent Technology Business at Ant Group, “through the Treasure Project, AntChain will join hands with partners to promote the digital transformation of the culture industry, bringing new vitality to traditional cultures with innovative technologies.” On Oct. 31, a group of leading Chinese tech companies, including Ant Group, pledged to enforce more self-discipline on NFT-powered digital collectibles together with industry associations and academies.

Once users purchase digital artworks on Chinese platforms, usually priced below RMB 50 ($7.80), they aren’t allowed to resell the artworks. On Alipay, only after users have owned the digital art for at least 180 days, can they gift the artwork freely to an authenticated contact on the platform.

This article was supported by Ant Group. We believe in transparency in our publishing and monetization model. Read more here.