GAUGUIN, Paul
(b. 1848, Paris, d. 1903, Atuona, Hiva Oa, French Polynesia)

Vairumati

1897
Oil on canvas, 73 x 94 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Vairumati is the Tahitian goddess, the original mother of the island, the mythical Eve from whom the Maohi people were descended. Gauguin depicted a young woman as the goddess. The white bird with the lizard in its claws is the Tahitian symbol of the ever-recurring cycle of life.

Gauguin repeatedly gave his paintings Tahitian titles, without having actually mastered this language.