By Ono no Tōfū
Ink on decorative paper
Heian period/Enchou 5(927)
Tokyo National Museum
When Zômyô, the tenth abbot (J. zasu) of Enryaku-ji Temple, passed away, the imperial court issued an official letter granting him the posthumous name Jôkan. The letter also promoted his teacher, Enchin, to the highest ecclesiastical rank, "Great Master of the Dharma Seal" (J. Hôin Daikashô) and granted him the posthumous name Chishô Daishi. This was in 927 (Enchô 5), thirty-six years after Enchin's death.
It is recorded that this imperial letter, issued by Emperor Daigo (885-930, r. 897-930), was composed by Fujiwara Hirofumi and transcribed by the renown calligrapher Ono no Michikaze (894-966). The voluminous and substantial characters, on pale blue paper with faintly drawn guidelines, reveal a strongly spirited hand. Michikaze, to whom is attributed the creation of Japanese-style calligraphy, was at the time, thirty-four years old and working as a minor scribe in the Ministry of Central Affairs (J. Nakatsukasashô) writing imperial letters and conferrals of rank. The letter has been marked in thirteen places on the front and two places on the back with a square red stamp reading "Emperor's Seal" (J. tennô gyoji).
Enchin (814-891) was the fifth abbot of Enryaku-ji Temple of the Tendai sect on Mt. Hiei and revitalized Onjô-ji Temple (also known as Mii-dera). He is considered to be the founder of the Jimon ("Temple School") branch of the Tendai sect.
er of the Jimon ("Temple School") branch of the Tendai sect.