Teishi-in ominaeshi awase

Shinpen kokka taikan no.6
Heian-chō uta’awase taisei no.9
Romanised TitleTeishi-in ominaeshi awase
Translated TitleMaidenflower Contest held by Former Emperor Uda
Alternative Title(s)
DateAutumn, Shōtai 1 [898]
Extant Poems51
SponsorEmperor Uda 宇多天皇
Identifiable ParticipantsThe Minister of the Left (sadaijin 左大臣); (Mibu no) Tadamine 忠岑; (Ōshikōchi no) Mitsune 躬恒; (Fujiwara no) Okikaze 興風; His Majesty (gyosei 御製); Her Majesty, the Empress (kisai no miya きさいのみや); Minamoto no Tsurana; Muneyuki 致行; Nochikata のちかた; Susugu すすぐ; Motoyori もとより; Yoshikaze よしかぜ; Yasuki やすき; Amane あまね; Mareyo まれよ; Motoyuki もとゆき; Ise 伊勢
TopicsMaidenflowers (ominaeshi 女郎花)

The headnote to this contest states:

In the year after that in which the Teishi Emperor relinquished the throne, he held a maidenflower match, making no instruction as to who should lead the teams of the Left and Right, so His Majesty and Her Majesty, the Empress, fulfilled those roles.

The contest itself contains eleven rounds and thus twenty-two poems, but these are then followed by twenty-nine poems which ‘were not matched but simply noted down’. The implication of this is that attendees at the contest also composed their own ‘maidenflower’ poems either before, or at, the event, and these were collected in order to provide a complete record of the day.

Unlike in later contests, the ‘judgement’ here consists of an ambiguous statement after the conclusion of the contest that ‘the poem(s) of the right won’ (uta wa migi kachinikeri). As Japanese nouns are not marked for number, this could mean either that there was a collective victory for the Right, or that only the Right’s poem in the final round was judged and found better than the poem of the Left. As the poems in this round are by Uda and Yoshiko (Onshi) respectively, and it would have been Uda who performed the judging, it is possible that this is simply him deferring to his empress out of politeness.

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