This study has traced the transformation of the meanings ascribed to the figure of the okina and to old age in general through various successive acts of meaning-making. In each case, individuals and groups used the aged body to advance their own particular agendas, but in no case—whether writing about elders or as elders—were they primarily interested in transforming the image of the elderly per se. Those who played the most significant role in the most radical refigurings of the okina seem to have shared a sense of their marginality relative to their sectarian, poetic, or political rivals. Many of these were also literati who inhabited the lower to mid-echelons of the court hierarchy and hoped to translate their knowledge of secret traditions concerning mysterious otherworldly okina into other forms of capital.
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