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Arii Matamoe

Arii Matamoe is an oil painting on coarse cloth by the French artist Paul Gauguin. Created in 1892, during the painter's first visit to Tahiti, Gauguin described it to a correspondent as the severed head of a Pacific Islander, "nicely arranged on a white cushion, in a palace of my invention and guarded by women also of my invention". The painting may have been inspired by the death of Pōmare V, the last Tahitian king, but is not representative of common or contemporary Tahitian mourning rituals. It depicts a despairing nude woman crouching near the displayed head, while a figure outside seems to proclaim the man's death to other people further away. The Tahitian words "Arii Matamoe", inscribed in the upper left above the head, respectively mean 'noble' and 'sleeping eyes' (implying death). The painting is in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Painting credit: Paul Gauguin

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