ASIA212Varley

He is a man who enjoys special protection from the

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Unformatted text preview: rare and splendid as udumbara blossoms, peerlessly fragrant as the blue lotus, fairest of waterflowers.17 Having lyrically described the most fundamental of all Buddhist truths, the impermanence of all things, Akazome Emon asserts that, alone among things, the flowering fortunes of Michinaga will not be governed by this truth but will continue—through Michinaga himself and his progeny—for a thousand years (forever?). Glorification of the Fujiwara and par ticularly Michinaga is even more pronounced in the second of the historical tales, The Great Mirror (Òkagami), which was probably written by a courtier in the late eleventh or early twelfth century and covers the period 850–1025 (the same period as that of Flowering Fortunes, but with a century added at the beginning). Whereas Flowering Fortunes is written in chronological form, The Great Mirror is organized according to “annals and biographies.”18 The annals are the records of emperors and are uniformly brief, occupying only about 10 percent of the entire work. The biographies, on the other hand, are those of the prominent Fujiwara who served at court during the reigns of these emperors and account for the work’s remaining 90 percent. In short, The Great Mirror is, first and foremost, a history of the Fujiwara leading inexorably to the family’s pinnacle of grandeur and glory in the age of Michinaga. In the following passage, the author, elaborating upon the “cult of personality” of Michinaga first propounded by Akazome Emon in A Tale of Flowering Fortunes, goes so far as to liken him to two of the greatest culture heroes in early Japanese history, Prince Shò- 70 The Court at Its Zenith toku and Kûkai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, and then to a god or a buddha: [Michinaga] is in a class by [himself]. He is a man who enjoys special protection from the gods of heaven and earth. Winds may rage and rains may fall day after day, but the skies will clear and the ground will dry out two or three days before he plans anything. Some people call...
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