The Pontifex carpet, which was gifted to Pope Francis, is being immortalized as an NFT (non-fungible token) by Abu Dhabi Art, with a selling price of US $150,000. When HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces visited Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2016, he came bearing the carpet, marking solid diplomatic ties and inter-religious harmony.
The only existing 272x183cm physical version of the carpet remains with Pope Francis, however, Zuleya—Fatima Bint Mohamed Bin Zayed Initiative’s carpet retail arm—created a replica to be gifted to whoever buys it as an NFT. The carpet will be displayed in a golden frame on a 65-inch digital canvas unveiled on November 15.
“The process of turning one of our most iconic carpets into an NFT is a crucial step forward for our initiative,” says Maywand Jabarkhyl, CEO of Fatima Bint Mohamed Bin Zayed Initiative. “Not only does it give us the chance to bring our designs to a global audience, but it opens up a new stream of revenue, which will be invaluable to our artisans in Afghanistan, particularly in light of the latest crisis. With the harsh winter months fast approaching, the funds raised will go towards providing core relief items to those most vulnerable in Afghanistan.”
The carpet was woven by women in Afghanistan and forms part of Zuleya’s Tolerance range. Signifying peace and harmony, 80% of the carpets revenue will provide core support to relieve the most vulnerable in Afghanistan from the harsh winter. “One of the best things about NFTs is that they give sovereignty back to artists, whilst at the same time allowing us to reach more people around the world as NFTs are not bound by geographical or physical restrictions,” said Jen Stelco, Head of Design at the Morrow Collective, the UAE-based virtual gallery dealing with NFTs.