DUBAI: The UAE’s gift to Pope Francis has been rendered as a non-fungible token (NFT) that will be available for purchase for $150,000 at Abu Dhabi Art this week.
Set to be unveiled on Monday, the iconic Pontifex Carpet was turned into an NFT and will be displayed in an ornate gold frame on a 65-inch digital canvas.
According to the Fatima bint Mohamed bin Zayed Initiative (FBMI), which spearheaded the project, 80% of proceeds will go towards the Afghan weavers who created the carpet and their families.
The carpet was originally gifted by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, to Pope Francis on a visit to the Vatican in September 2016 where the two leaders met to discuss strengthening existing diplomatic links and promoting inter-religious harmony.
The only existing version of the Pontifex Carpet, which is 272x183cm, remains in Pope Francis' possession, but in order to immortalise the artwork, an NFT was created from the original by the Morrow Collective. The weavers have also created a replica of the carpet measuring 185 x125cm, to be gifted to the buyer of the NFT.
Maywand Jabarkhyl, the CEO FBMI, 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.”
“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,” Jen Stelco, Head of Design at the MORROW collective, said, before adding: “Working with FBMI designs has allowed MORROW to make NFTs from carpets designed by women in Afghanistan, who are also benefiting from blockchain technology, which is capable of bringing real and lasting change to their lives.”
The NFT will be available to buy on https://opensea.io/collection/zuleya-by-fbmi.