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Merahi metua no Tehamana (Tehamana Has Many Parents or The Ancestors of Tehamana)

A work made of oil on jute canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on jute canvas.




Paul Gauguin
French, 1848-1903

About this artwork

Paul Gauguin traveled to rural France and then abroad in search of inspiration for his art. His quest took the former stockbroker to the French regions of Brittany and Provence, to Panama and Martinique, and finally to Tahiti and the Marquesas in the South Pacific. This stately portrait of Gauguin’s young Tahitian vahine (lover), Tehamana, is perhaps a farewell, since it was painted shortly before the artist left the island, returning to France for two years. Elaborately dressed, her hair decorated with flowers, Tehamana is seated in front of a mysterious painted background reminiscent of a frieze on the wall of an ancient palace or temple. Two ripe mangoes—perhaps an offering or symbol of fertility—rest beside her hip. She points a fan, an emblem of beauty, toward the similarly frontal figure of a goddess, who also wears a red flower in her hair. The fan, flowers, fruit, and even Tehamana’s glance suggest not only the strong, enigmatic bond between these two figures but also the connections between the present and the past, the corporeal and the spiritual, and the living and the dead.

On View

European Painting and Sculpture, Gallery 247


Paul Gauguin


Merahi metua no Tehamana (Tehamana Has Many Parents or The Ancestors of Tehamana)






Oil on jute canvas


Signed lower center: P. Gauguin. / 93 Inscribed lower left: MERAHI METUA NO / TEHAMANA


75 × 53 cm (29 1/2 × 20 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Deering McCormick

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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