Also known as "Sacred Mountain", translated, "Parahi Te Marae" become "there lies the temple".
During Gauguin's period in Tahiti, Europeans thought that these hill-like formations were burial grounds but anthropologists now feel that they were temples.
Gauguin wanted to capture the sprit of Polynesian religious practices, rituals and beliefs that had been quashed by the missionaries and settlers.
Although this scene is derived from Gauguin's imagination and using his basic knowledge of Polynesian culture, it has been suggested that this scene was inspired by Rano Raraku, a volcano on Easter Island.
In this image a large yellow mound or hill dominates the scene, with a craggy mountain range behind. The mountains form the profile of a face and rising up through the mouth is a barely visible wisp of smoke.
It is thought that this could represent a sacrificial offering, the mountain's breath or perhaps just an indication that it is simply dormant. In front of the smoke is a large statue resembling one of the Moai on Easter island.
In the foreground of the picture is an ornamental fence which was inspired by a Marquesan ear ornament which Gauguin would have enlarged and embellished.
He would also have seen many wood carvings and "tiki" in Tahiti and on his travels. The foreground is covered with tropical flowers and leaves. Some writers have suggested that images of love-making couples can be found hidden in them.
The style used within the painting is termed cloisonnism and is post-impressionist. Gauguin uses simplified, flat forms of colour separated by darker outlines.
Gauguin is especially known for his use of colour, he wrote "...any colour alone is a crudity and does not exist in nature". He wrote of nature: "...don't copy nature too literally. Art is an abstraction..."
Gauguin's work didn't receive the appreciation it deserved during his lifetime. Parahi Te Marae is a mysterious, exotic gift from an artist with whose travels and images are now recognized and revered across the globe.