Pope Francis was gifted the Pontifex carpet by the UAE, and the gift has now been immortalized as an NFT by Abu Dhabi Art. NFT stands for non-fungible token, which is in simple language – a piece of art for eg, as a digital file which can only be bought and sold using crypto-currency. It exists on a block-chain and only the owner of the file will have access to it with a unique code of sorts.
The NFT version is being sold for a whopping $150,000.
The actual Pontifex carpet was presented to the pope when HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces visited him at the Vatican in 2016. His visit marked solid diplomatic ties and inter-religious harmony.
The existing physical carpet will remain in Pope Francis’ possession, however, Zuleya—Fatima Bint Mohamed Bin Zayed Initiative’s carpet retail arm—created a replica to be gifted to the buyer of the NFT version. It is displayed in a golden frame on a 65-inch digital canvas which was unveiled on November 15th 2021.
In a statement, Maywand Jabarkhyl, CEO of Fatima Bint Mohamed Bin Zayed Initiative said, “The process of turning one of our most iconic carpets into an NFT is a crucial step forward for our 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 original Pontifex carpet has a unique story as it was woven by women in Afghanistan, and is also part of Zuleya’s Tolerance range. The carpets are made to signify harmony and peace and 80% of the sales proceeds provide relief to vulnerable people in Afghanistan during the winters.
Jen Stelco, Head of Design at the Morrow Collective, the UAE-based virtual gallery dealing with NFTs, added, “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.”