Kitano tenjin engi  北野天神縁起
KEY WORD : art history / iconography
Also sometimes abbreviated to tenjin engi 天神縁起 (History of Kitano Tenjin). A combination biography and catalogue of miracles performed by Sugawara Michizane 菅原道真 (845-903), the founding of Kyoto's Kitano Tenmanguu 北野天満宮. The text, written shortly before 1194, is a combination of historical facts and miraculous tales gleaned from a variety of sources. It is divided into 33 sections, symbolic of the number of incarnations of *Kannon 観音. Michizane, a noted poet of Chinese verse, kanshi 漢詩 and a prominent statesman under Emperors Uda 宇多 (867-931) and Daigo 醍醐 (885-930), was wrongly accused of treason by his rival Fujiwara Tokihira 藤原時平 (871-909) and exiled to Dazaifu 太宰府 in northern Kyuushuu 九州. Soon after his untimely death, a series of calamities struck the court in Kyoto, and Michizane was deified as the Shinto god *Tenjin 天神 and a shrine was built in 947 to appease his vengeful spirit. Kitano tenjin engi was illustrated on handscrolls *emaki 絵巻 from the early 13c. The earliest version is called the Joukyuubon 承久本 and is also referred to as the original version konpon engi 根本縁起. This consists of eight large scrolls (52.2 cm high) and is dated to around 1219. It is owned by Kitano Tenmanguu. Another version, the Kouanbon 弘安本, also preserved at the Shrine, was completed in 1382 and served as the pictorial basis for numerous copies painted for many Tenjin shrines built throughout Japan in the 14c and 15c. Often these later versions, such as the Matsuzaki tenjin engi 松崎天神縁起 of 1311 (Houfu Tenmanguu 防府天満宮, Yamaguchi prefecture), add anecdotes and illustrations relating to the history of the shrine. More than 30 extant Kitano tenjin engi scrolls can be divided into three lineages based on textual variations in the opening headnote. The first type begins "Although there are many gods that protect this land, ....." 王城鎮守神々多くましませと..... This type includes versions in Kitano Tenmanguu (Joukyuubon, Metropolitan Museum), Sugitani Jinja 杉谷神社 (Mie prefecture, 1419), and Egara Tenjinsha 荏柄天神社 (now in Maeda Ikutokukai 前田育徳会, 1319). The second type begins "Our land of Nippon has been under special protection, ....." 日本我朝は神明の御めぐみことにさかりなり..... and includes the scrolls in Tsuda Tenman jinnja 津田天満神社 (Hyougo prefecture, 1298) and Kitano Tenmanguu (Mitsunobubon 光信本, 1503). The third type begins "Although many more than one miracle has been performed, ....." 漢家本朝霊験不思議一にあらさる中に..... and includes the works in Kitano Tenmanguu (Kouanobon, Nezu 根津 Museum, Tokyo, and Imperial Household Agency), as well as the Matsuzaki Tenjin version. See *Totou Tenjin 渡唐天神 for other depictions relating to Michizane.


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