Father Lumino Guzman, a Jesuit, records in his private journal that a person using the name Gauguin visited Belau for a brief period during his tenure as missionary in those parts. The person described by the priest was someone who appeared to be unhappy and in need of a shave. We do not know if this was in fact the famous French painter on his way to Tahiti, but it seems at least possible. A painting with all the stylistic earmarks of a Gauguin was reported to the Cultural Affairs Department in 1952. It is said to be held inside a shed with no doors or windows that was built by persons unknown in the northern village of Ngalrod.
The rubak (the chiefs of Ngalrod) meet every Thursday to discuss the contents of the painting, which has not been seen in the full light of day since being entombed sometime during the opening phase of World War II. A few people have viewed portions of the painting through a space between the boards that make the south wall of the shed. Their reports vary as to the nature of the subject, or subjects, depicted, but in general it is agreed that the theme is wholly Belauan, and intended to be celebratory.
A watercolor purported be a second proof of the passage of Gauguin turned up in 1975 in the village of Chrup on the southern island of Paliu Makku. It appeared rather suddenly, and out of nowhere, during a feast at which many persons had eaten the intestines of a sea turtle and had drunk a fair amount of the liquid called lieuki.
The mysterious appearance of a second work of art -- in this instance an oil painting that resembles the work of Cuban artist Wilfredo Lam -- suggests Gauguin, if he visited Belau Belau, was not the only western artist to do so.
Such are the pressing issues that occupy the minds and hearts of the natives of this happy land. To date no one has suggested that the shed in Ngalrod be opened, though pressure to do that is being brought by foreign historians who have papers in progress, papers upon which their reputations and salaries depend.