Chhimi Dema

Made of fallen and faded prayer flags, three horse sculptures inspired by the motif on lungta (the wind horse) sculpted by VAST Bhutan are being exhibited in metaverse until December 4 of this year in New York. 

Metaverse is a virtual space within digital environments such as online games, social media, and virtual reality. 

Sculpted by VAST Bhutan founder Karma Wangdi, also known as Azha Karma, along with 11 other artists from VAST Bhutan, the horses stand in the Tarayana Park today. 

The artwork will also be exhibited in The Mars House, the world’s first non-fungible token (NFT) house and auctioned as NFT in 2022. 

NFT is a unique identifier to prove ownership of a digital asset. NFTs for digital artworks have sold for millions of dollars in the world. 

Reports show that in the first half of 2021, NFT sales hit USD 2.5 billion. 

The wind horse sculpture has three stages, with a horse emerging from flags, the horse poised calmly and peacefully on its feet, and a horse on the hind legs turning into a wild horse. 

VAST Bhutan’s executive director, Chimi Zangmo, said: “This collaboration to virtualise the artwork of Azha Karma and auctioning it as an NFT is a milestone for contemporary art in Bhutan, and we hope this timely step into the virtual world will open vast possibilities to a future that is inevitably a merger of creativity and AI (artificial intelligence).” 

The virtual exhibition is accessible through 

Artists collected 75 sacks of littered prayer flags from Sangaygang to build the artwork that will later be burnt.  

The team noticed that at Sangaygang, with lungta flags hanging on the pine trees, some of the trees were being strangled with twine holding them. 

Azha Karma said: “This sculpture is an attempt at realising my 30-year-old dream of understanding the wind horse phenomena and its side effects–that is, our inability to control our desire of wanting more luck and protection, which has manifested itself in the form of littered mountain tops.” 

The first horse emerging from the prayer flag is how the prayers travel around using wind and rivers as channels to carry them. 

Azha Karma said that the poised horse symbolises the positive energy in all. Harnessing the positive energy within allows one to pass it to others, which helps to bring luck to oneself and people around you, he added. 

Many are unable to control their desire for more luck and protection, he said, and end up hoisting the flags in abundance. “In the process, they are littering the mountaintop and trampling the mantras and scriptures, thus the prayers end up in greed, turning the wish-fulfilling wind horses into an uncontrollable mad horse.”  

The sculpture is a part of an art festival that will be held next year. 

Edited by Tshering Palden