The "Idol with a Shell" sculpture depicts a deity, depicted in the lotus position and adorned with cannibalistic teeth made from a parrot fish's pharyngeal tooth, tattooed legs, and mother-of-pearl adornments on the pectoral and belt. Two figures are depicted on either side of the main figure, with arms ending in flat, rake-like fingers and legs bent in a manner suggestive of sexual gestures in the tamure dance. The sculpture also features Maori-inspired fish hook ears and tikis with flat skulls decorating the base of the shield. Gauguin's use of sculpture, an unfamiliar medium for him, allowed him to delve even deeper into his "unwittingly savage" nature than in his paintings.
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