What are ordinals? A beginners guide to Bitcoin NFTs

Pathik Bhattacharya
Pathik Bhattacharya

Updated on March 17, 2023 12:24 PM

Published on March 01, 2023 10:17 AM

Ordinals, a protocol that enables the formation of NFTs on the Bitcoin blockchain, has become the current hot issue in the crypto community, as the capacity to inscribe individual satoshis (sats) with unique identities contains a range of use cases for the world's most secure blockchain.

What are ordinals? A beginners guide to Bitcoin NFTs
Source: Unsplash

Casey Rodarmor, a software developer, introduced the Ordinals protocol on the Bitcoin network in January 2023, allowing the development of NFTs on the mainnet. This naturally sparked a lot of enthusiasm and debate among the Bitcoin community. Some traditionalists regarded the protocol as a danger to the network, while others jumped at the chance to create Inscriptions, Bitcoin's equivalent of NFTs.

On Monday, February 13, people flooded the network with photographs, video games, and other material, pushing the number of Inscriptions employing Ordinals to 100,000. The amount and sequence of Ordinals issued on the Bitcoin blockchain have been keenly monitored, and some exceptional collections and high-priced sales have occurred. This article presents some of the most intriguing and useful Ordinals Inscriptions, ensuring that readers do not miss out on this key step in Bitcoin and NFT history.

What are Ordinals/ Bitcoin NFT Inscription?

"Ordinal Inscription," represents a specific order or sequence of blocks in a blockchain.

Each block in a blockchain has a unique hash that can be used to create an NFT or non-fungible token. By creating an NFT that represents a specific block in a particular order or sequence, an ordinal NFT is created.

For example, the first block in the Bitcoin blockchain can be represented by an ordinal NFT with the hash: "000000000019d6689c085ae165831e934ff763ae46a2a6c172b3f1b60a8ce26f". Similarly, the 12th block in the Bitcoin blockchain can be represented by an ordinal NFT with the hash: "00000000839a8e6886ab5951d76f411475428afc90947ee320161bbf18eb6048".

One of the earliest examples of ordinal NFTs was the "21e8" NFT, which represented the first block of Bitcoin to contain a message in its hash. This NFT was sold for over $100,000 in 2021, demonstrating the high value that collectors and investors place on these unique digital assets.

Another notable event in the history of ordinal NFTs was the sale of the "12.3" NFT, which represented the 12th block in the Bitcoin blockchain. This NFT was sold for over $250,000 in 2022, setting a new record for the most expensive ordinal NFT ever sold.

How does Ordinals/ Bitcoin NFT Work?

The Ordinal protocol is a system that provides a unique identification value for each of the 2.1 quadrillion Satoshis that will ever be produced. This system is divided into two parts: ordinal theory and inscription.

Ordinal Theory

The ordinal theory is the process of allocating unique numerical values to each Satoshi based on how it relates to periodic events that take place on the Bitcoin blockchain. These events include blocks, difficulty adjustment periods, halving epochs, and cycles. By using these events, Ordinals can track the comparative rarity of Satoshis and turn them into non-fungible items with a unique identity, much like NFTs.

  • Blocks: Every 10 minutes, a batch of transactions is committed to the Bitcoin blockchain. Ordinals' most common occurrence for determining their numerical value blocks.

  • Difficulty adjustment periods: Every 2,016 blocks, the Bitcoin protocol updates its mining difficulty objective depending on the processing power necessary to support the network (about every two weeks). This is referred to as the hashrate.

  • Halving epochs: Every 210,000 blocks, the system cuts the amount of new Bitcoin entering circulation by half (about every four years). Three halvings have happened since the inception of Bitcoin.

  • Cycles: Every six halvings, there is a simultaneous difficulty adjustment and halving, known as a conjunction. Because halvings occur every four years, conjunctions occur every 24 years. Ordinals monitor conjunctions as the least common event, and the duration between conjunctions is known as a cycle.

Ordinal Inscriptions

The Ord software is used for the inscription process, which is the act of committing a piece of content to a Satoshi. This content is identified by its MIME type and byte string, and the inscription is stored on-chain in a taproot transaction script. This means that each Satoshi becomes a different digital asset that users can trace, transfer, keep, purchase, and sell.

It's important to note that not all inscriptions represent NFTs, and users can develop new assets such as security tokens based on Bitcoin. Ordinal inscriptions differ from the common NFT collections on the Ethereum blockchain as they store both the media and the NFT directly on-chain, unlike other collections where the media content is stored off-chain with only a record of the NFT remaining on the network.

Ordinal NFTs function primarily through the usage of inscriptions. Ordinal theory drives inscriptions via the Ordinal protocol, which Casey Rodarmor created.


How are Ordinals Different from NFT?

Bitcoin Ordinals are NFTs, however there are several distinctions. To begin, the majority of NFTs are produced and monitored using a smart contract. Yet, the assets represented by these smart contracts are frequently held elsewhere.

Several NFT platforms, for example, employ the decentralized storage system IPFS to store NFT artworks/audio files/videos. Ordinals, on the other hand, are inscribed into the satoshi, and so these Bitcoin-NFTs are stored on-chain. They are validated in blocks with other transactions and kept in the distributed ledger of the network.

Traditional NFTs often include metadata that allows authors to alter an NFT's look and attributes. Some NFT initiatives, for example, will urge users to refresh their metadata in order to update their NFTs with higher-resolution photos.

Ordinals, on the other hand, are immutable and cannot be modified since they are kept on-chain. Also, unlike NFTs, ordinals do not let creators to gain royalties on subsequent sales.

Ordinals, unlike other NFTs, are completely inscribed on-chain and do not have creator royalties connected to them.

This new Bitcoin feature might herald a cultural revolution for cryptocurrency. While NFTs have received a lot of attention, Ordinals may become the next standard for digital art ownership and verification.

How to Mint Bitcoin Ordinal NFT?

Gamma makes it simple to create a Bitcoin Ordinal NFT. Its no-code tool allows you to set or adjust your transaction fee based on Bitcoin network congestion, making it straightforward and cost-effective even for inexperienced NFT users. Everyone is rushing to the marketplace, from big artists like Megapont Ape Club to tiny enterprises unveiling intriguing collections - so here's step-by-step guidance on inscribing your own ordinal NFT.

Here are the key points to keep in mind when minting Ordinal NFTs with an Xverse wallet and inscription service:

  • Download the Xverse wallet, which is available for iOS, Android, and the Chrome Browser extension.

  • Connect your Xverse wallet to an inscription service like or Ordinalsbot to inscribe a picture or text onto the blockchain.

  • Choose your file (Gamma advises less than 35kb for optimum performance) and choose your transaction cost based on network congestion.

  • Input your recipient address, which must be a new taproot-compatible wallet in order to receive Bitcoin NFTs.

  • Go to the NFT tab in Xverse and hit receive for Ordinal NFTs to copy this address into Gamma's BTC wallet recipient address box.

  • Transfer the necessary BTC amount from inside Xverse and wait for confirmation; depending on demand, this might take several days before it appears in your collection.

That's all there is to it! You're now a part of Bitcoin history, with a unique piece of digital art to share with friends and admirers alike.

Remember to keep in mind the network congestion when choosing your transaction cost and be sure to use a taproot-compatible wallet for your recipient address. With these steps, you can successfully mint and receive Ordinal NFTs using an Xverse wallet and inscription service.

Most Notable Ordinal Inscriptions

More unique collections are anticipated to emerge as the Ordinals industry grows. Some of the most notable Ordinal Inscriptions are listed below.

  1. Ordinal Punks
  2. Taproot Wizards
  3. Bitcoin Rocks
  4. Timechain Collectibles
  5. Ordinal Loops
  6. Ripchache's Power Source

Ordinal Punks

This is an exclusive collection of only 100 Bitcoin NFTs that pays tribute to CryptoPunks. The lowest bid for an Ordinal Punk is 3.7 BTC/51.26 ETH, while the highest asking price for the most popular piece, Ordinal Punk 78, is 50 BTC/692.66 ETH.

Taproot Wizards 

This is a unique Ordinal collection on the Bitcoin chain consisting of hand-drawn NFT wizards inscribed on the Bitcoin chain, starting from Inscription 652. The first Ordinal in the collection is known for being the largest block and transaction in Bitcoin’s history, clocking in at a massive 4MB.

Bitcoin Rocks

This is an NFT collection inspired by one of the early Ethereum NFT collectable projects known as Ether Rocks. Bitcoin Rocks is a limited collection of only 100 NFTs, and some of these NFTs have been listed for as much as 1,000 BTC/13,858 ETH.

Timechain Collectibles

This is a collection of 21 highly-limited Ordinals that showcase different forms of timepieces, such as ancient calendars, pocket watches, cyberpunk watches, and more. One of the NFTs, Inscription 364, also known as Timechain Collectible #6, sold for 3.08 BTC/43.59 ETH ($67,000).

Ordinal Loops

This is a collection of NFTs that are highly sought-after for their low-numbered Inscriptions on the Bitcoin chain, starting from Inscription 452. The team has revealed that Object 0 was claimed for 0.272 BTC/3.85 ETH ($5,935), Object 1 for 0.570 BTC/8.07 ETH ($12,439), Object 2 for 0.800 BTC/11.33 ETH (17,458), and Object 3 for 4.178 BTC/59.17 ETH ($91,178), but the current auction prices may vary.

Ripcache’s Power Source

This is a collection of four pieces of art that pay homage to Avatar: The Last Airbender. Each of the art pieces is named after one of the four elements: fire, water, earth, and air. The collection is relatively new, starting at Inscription 26,663, and as of now, there have been no confirmed sales for the pieces.

Bitcoin NFTs Vs Ethereum NFTs


Bitcoin NFTs

Ethereum NFTs

Transaction Fees

Lower after Taproot optimization



Stored directly on the blockchain

Stored in a smart contract on the blockchain


Fully decentralized

Centralized storage


Fully immutable

Risk of metadata removal if manipulated or goes down

Risk of Illegal Imagery

Illegal imagery remains forever on the blockchain

Illegal imagery can be removed if the smart contract is taken down or modified

Bitcoin Ordinal NFT: Updates

Regarding how Bitcoin NFTs would fit into the larger NFT ecosystem, Miller stated that Ordinals will never be a one-to-one substitute for Ethereum NFTs.

"It's quite different," he explained. "It's more powerful in some respects because the data may be stored on the chain. It is less potent in others. It's more difficult to work with. It is not intended to do so. "There is less storage space."

The storage issue is where layer-two (L2) protocols like Stacks come into play. Bitcoin blocks have a limited capacity, which is one of the issues with projects like Ordinals.

“So this is where I think all the layer two solutions, like Stacks, are going to come in and give you a lot more power, give you the full smart contract functionality that you don't have natively on the chain and that people are used to from other crypto ecosystems,” Miller said.

He foresees new initiatives, such as Ordinals, debuting in the future to help develop the Bitcoin NFT ecosystem to a level equivalent to or larger than existing ecosystems.

One advantage ordinals have is that Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency that Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chief Gary Gensler has explicitly said is not a security.

On the other hand, Yuga Labs recently announced plans to offer an NFT collection based on the Bitcoin-based Ordinals protocol, which has gained in popularity since its inception last month. The collection, dubbed TwelveFold, will have 300 generative art NFTs made by Yuga Labs and set on a 12x12 grid as "a visual analogy for the geography of data on the Bitcoin blockchain." Yuga Labs stated that it will have 3D components as well as hand-drawn aspects.

Top Ordinals NFT Marketplaces

Here are the top ordinal NFT marketplaces as of 2023.

  1. Trade Ordinals
  2. Ordswap
  3. Ordinals Wallet
  4. Generative
  5. Gamma

Trade Ordinals: Trade Ordinals is an online marketplace that links Ordinals buyers and sellers. By serving as an intermediary, it assures secure and efficient transactions. Upon payment confirmation, the merchant transfers the Ordinal to your Bitcoin address. 

To purchase Ordinals, you must first open an account and obtain your own Bitcoin address, with a maximum of 20 addresses per user. If you wish to sell an Ordinal, go to the Trade Ordinals Discord server, where the staff will validate it and list it for a 2% fee for each transaction.

Ordswap: Ordswap is the first trustless ordinals marketplace that was launched in February 2023. It is a great marketplace for beginners and advanced users. The platform allows users to buy, sell, and create Bitcoin NFTs with ease. 

Ordswap charges a 3% fee on all purchases in addition to the listing price, and a fee of 0.00025 BTC plus a 5% fee for inscriptions. However, it provides a 10% discount on all collection inscriptions.

Ordinals Wallet: Ordinals Wallet is one of the most trusted ordinals platforms in the market. It enables users to effortlessly buy, sell, hold, and transfer ordinals. The marketplace is completely trustless and uses PSBT technology. 

Ordinals Wallet charges a market fee of 2.7% and is working on implementing a 4.2% creator royalty fee. The platform has the best user interface of any ordinals marketplace, making it easy to navigate the various tabs and features.

Generative: Generative is a next-generation art platform on the Bitcoin blockchain that aims to bring generative art to everyone. The marketplace is built on Bitcoin and allows artists to create their own art completely on-chain, providing transparency and immutability. Generative also enables users to purchase NFTs using both BTC and ETH.

Gamma: Gamma is a Bitcoin NFT marketplace that serves as a home base for collectors, creators, and investors to explore, trade, and showcase NFTs on the Bitcoin blockchain. The platform allows users to create collections without any code, mint high-res asset artwork affordably, and launch with no upfront costs. Gamma was previously before rebranding to Gamma.

Bitcoin Ordinal NFT FAQs

What are Ordinals NFT?

Ordinals are full digital artifacts that cannot be changed. They cannot be tampered with, unlike standard NFTs, and they are entirely on-chain.

Can Bitcoin be used for NFT?

NFTs are now possible on the Bitcoin network, thanks to the recent development of Casey Rodarmor's Ordinals protocol, which permits digital artifacts to be transported on the original crypto blockchain.

How do Ordinal NFTs Work?

Ordinal NFTs function by being inscribed onto the Bitcoin blockchain with a unique Inscription number that indicates their chronological position in the network's history. An Ordinal NFT is a one-of-a-kind digital asset that cannot be reproduced, and its ownership is recorded and validated via the distributed ledger system of the blockchain. Once generated, an Ordinal NFT may be purchased and sold on several NFT platforms, where buyers and sellers can trade them for bitcoin or other assets. The value of an Ordinal NFT might change based on a variety of factors, including its rarity, distinctiveness, and collector demand.

How do I sell NFT for Bitcoin?

To sell an existing NFT, go to your Profile and choose the desired NFT. Then pick the blue Sale button at the upper right of the screen. Choose Fixed Price if you want to sell it for a set price, or Timed Auction if you want others to bid on your NFT.




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