Sōhei were Buddhist warrior monks of both medieval and feudal Japan. At certain points in history, they held considerable power, obliging the imperial and military governments to collaborate; the prominence of the sōhei rose in parallel with the ascendancy of the Tendai school's influence between the 10th and 17th centuries. The warriors protected land and intimidated rival schools of Buddhism, becoming a significant factor in the spread of Buddhism and the development of different schools during the Kamakura period; the sōhei shared many similarities with the European lay brothers, members of a monastic order who might not have been ordained. Much like the Teutonic Order, the warrior monks of Germany, the crusading orders, sōhei did not operate as individuals, or as members of small, individual temples, but rather as warriors in a large extended brotherhood or monastic order; the home temple of a sōhei monastic order might have had several, if not dozens or a hundred, smaller monasteries, training halls, subordinate temples connected to it.
A famous sōhei monastery is the Enryaku-ji on Mount Hiei, just outside Kyoto. Warrior monks first appeared during the Heian period, when bitter political feuds began between different temples, different subsects of Buddhism, over imperial appointments to the top temple positions. Much of the fighting over the next four centuries was over these sorts of political feuds, centered around the temples of Kyoto, Ōmi, namely the Tōdai-ji, Kōfuku-ji, Enryaku-ji, Mii-dera, the four largest temples in the country; the first armed conflict broke out in 949, when 56 monks from Tōdai-ji staged a protest at the residence of a Kyoto official, over an appointment that displeased them. Protests of this sort continued through the 10th century breaking out into brawls in which some participants would be killed. In 970, following a dispute between Enryaku-ji and the Yasaka Shrine of Kyoto, the former established the first standing army of warrior monks, it is not clear whether or not this standing army consisted of monks from Enryaku-ji, or were more like mercenaries, since Ryōgen, the abbot who established this army established a code of monastic conduct that prevented monks from leaving Mount Hiei during their twelve-year training, from covering their faces, from carrying weapons.
Beginning in 981, there were a number of armed conflicts between Enryaku-ji and Mii-dera, each the head temple of a different sub-sect of Tendai. These disputes were, as before, over political appointments, dishonorable etiquette. More than not, these were cases of members of one faction being chosen as the abbot of the other faction's temple, the monks would protest; this continued, on and off, once stopping for as long as 40 years, through the eleventh and into the 12th century. The armies became larger, the violence increased, until in 1121 and 1141 Mii-dera was burned to the ground by monks from Enryaku-ji. Other temples became embroiled in the conflicts as well, Enryaku-ji and Mii-dera united against Kōfuku-ji, another time, against Kiyomizu-dera. At the end of the 12th century, Japan was plunged into the Genpei War and, while the feuds between the temples did not end, they became subsumed by larger events; the warring Minamoto and Taira clans both tried to obtain the aid of the warrior monks of Nara and Kyoto, adding the temples' forces to the clans' mighty armies of samurai.
Taira no Kiyomori sent generous gifts of rice and silk to Enryakuji, ensuring they would not help his enemies, the Minamoto, who had allied themselves with the monks of Mii-dera. In the Battle of Uji in 1180, one of the more famous battles in which sōhei participated, the monks of Mii-dera, along with a force of Minamoto samurai, tried to defend the bridge over the Uji River, the Byōdō-in, a temple behind it, from an attacking Taira force; the monks pulled up the planks of the bridge to impair the ability of the horse mounted samurai to cross. The warrior monks stood their ground with bow and arrow, naginata and dagger, but were defeated. Following his victory, Taira no Kiyomori ordered that revenge be taken upon the monks that opposed him. Mii-dera was burned to the ground once again. Only the Enryaku-ji escaped unscathed. Three years when Minamoto no Yoshinaka betrayed his clan by storming into Kyoto, setting the Hōjōji Palace aflame and kidnapping Emperor Go-Shirakawa, he was opposed by many of the monks of Kyoto, including those from Mount Hiei.
Following the Genpei War, the monasteries, to a large extent, turned their attention to rebuilding, first physically, politically. Their political influence grew stronger through peaceful means, the warrior monks played only minor roles in the wars of the 13th and 14th centuries. Violent conflict between the temples still occurred on occasion, once again over political and spiritual appointments, related matters. During the wars of the Nanboku-chō period, Mount Hiei took in the rebel Emperor Go-Daigo, offered him sanctuary. Emperor Go-Daigo, along with his son, the help of the sōhei of Mount Hiei, launched a brief rebellion against the Kamakura shogunate; the Ashikaga shogunate took power shortly afterwards, supported Zen over the other Buddhist sects, drawing the ire of the warrior monks. Over the course of the 1340s–1360s a number of conflicts erupted between the Tendai sect temples, those of Zen Nanzen-ji; the Ōnin War, starting in 1467, was the prelude to over a century of civil war in Japan, the stimulus for a reorganization of the warrior monks.
Unlike the Jōkyū War and Mongol invasions of the 13th century, the Ōnin War was fought in Kyoto, thus the warrior monks could no longer remain
The Genpei War was a national civil war between the Taira and Minamoto clans during the late-Heian period of Japan. It resulted in the downfall of the Taira and the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate under Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1192; the name "Genpei" comes from alternate readings of the kanji "Minamoto" and "Taira". The conflict is known in Japanese as the Jishō-Juei War, after the two Imperial eras between which it took place, it followed a coup d'état by the Taira in 1179 with the removal of rivals from all government posts, subsequently banishing them, a call to arms against them, led by the Minamoto in 1180. The ensuing battle of Uji took place just outside Kyoto, starting a five-year-long war, concluding with a decisive Minamoto victory in the naval battle of Dan-no-ura; the Genpei War was the culmination of a decades-long conflict between the two aforementioned clans over dominance of the Imperial court, by extension, control of Japan. In the Hōgen Rebellion and in the Heiji Rebellion of earlier decades, the Minamoto attempted to regain control from the Taira and failed.
In 1180, Taira no Kiyomori put his grandson Antoku on the throne after the abdication of Emperor Takakura. Emperor Go-Shirakawa's son Mochihito felt that he was being denied his rightful place on the throne and, with the help of Minamoto no Yorimasa, sent out a call to arms to the Minamoto clan and Buddhist monasteries in May. However, this plot ended with the deaths of Mochihito. In June 1180, Kiyomori moved the seat of imperial power to Fukuhara-kyō, "his immediate objective seems to have been to get the royal family under his close charge." The actions of Taira no Kiyomori having deepened Minamoto hatred for the Taira clan, a call for arms was sent up by Minamoto no Yorimasa and Prince Mochihito. Not knowing, behind this rally, Kiyomori called for the arrest of Mochihito, who sought protection at the temple of Mii-dera; the Mii-dera monks were unable to ensure him sufficient protection, so he was forced to move along. He was chased by Taira forces to the Byōdō-in, just outside Kyoto; the war began thus, with a dramatic encounter around the bridge over the River Uji.
This battle ended in Yorimasa's ritual suicide inside the Byōdō-in and Mochihito's capture and execution shortly afterwards. It was at this point that Minamoto no Yoritomo took over leadership of the Minamoto clan and began traveling the country seeking to rendezvous with allies. Leaving Izu Province and heading for the Hakone Pass, he was defeated by the Taira in the battle of Ishibashiyama; however he made it to the provinces of Kai and Kōzuke, where the Takeda and other friendly families helped repel the Taira army. Meanwhile, seeking vengeance against the Mii-dera monks and others, besieged Nara and burnt much of the city to the ground. Fighting continued the following year, 1181. Minamoto no Yukiie was defeated by a force led by Taira no Shigehira at the Battle of Sunomatagawa. However, the "Taira could not follow up their victory."Taira no Kiyomori died from illness in the spring of 1181, around the same time Japan began to suffer from a famine, to last through the following year. The Taira moved to attack Minamoto no Yoshinaka, a cousin of Yoritomo who had raised forces in the north, but were unsuccessful.
For nearly two years, the war ceased, only to resume in the spring of 1183. In 1183, the Taira loss at the Battle of Kurikara was so severe that they found themselves, several months under siege in Kyoto, with Yoshinaka approaching the city from the north and Yukiie from the east. Both Minamoto leaders had seen little or no opposition in marching to the capital and now forced the Taira to flee the city. Taira no Munemori, head of the clan since his father Kiyomori's death, led his army, along with the young Emperor Antoku and the Imperial regalia, to the west; the cloistered emperor Go-Shirakawa defected to Yoshinaka. Go-Shirakawa issued a mandate for Yoshinaka to "join with Yukiie in destroying Munemori and his army". In 1183, Yoshinaka once again sought to gain control of the Minamoto clan by planning an attack on Yoritomo, while pursuing the Taira westward; the Taira set up a temporary Court at Daaifu in the southernmost of Japan's main islands. They were forced out soon afterwards by local revolts instigated by Go-Shirakawa, moved their Court to Yashima.
The Taira were successful in beating off an attack by Yoshinaka's pursuing forces at the Battle of Mizushima. Yoshinaka conspired with Yukiie to seize the capital and the Emperor even establishing a new Court in the north. However, Yukiie revealed these plans to the Emperor. Betrayed by Yukiie, Yoshinaka took command of Kyoto and, at the beginning of 1184, set fire to the Hōjūjidono, taking the Emperor into custody. Minamoto no Yoshitsune arrived soon afterwards with his brother Noriyori and a considerable force, driving Yoshinaka from the city. After fighting his cousins at the bridge over the Uji, Yoshinaka made his final stand at Awazu, in Ōmi Province, he was defeated by Yoshitsune, killed while attempting to flee. As the united Minamoto forces left Kyoto, the Taira began consolidating their position at a number of sites in and around the Inland Sea, their ancestral home territory, they received a number of missives from the Emperor offering that if they surrendered by the seventh day of the second month, the Minamoto could be persuaded to agree to a truce.
This was a farce, as neither the Minamoto nor the Emperor had any intentions of waiting until the eighth day to attack. This tactic offered the Emperor a chance to regain the Rega
Imperial House of Japan
The Imperial House of Japan referred to as the Imperial Family or the Yamato Dynasty, comprises those members of the extended family of the reigning Emperor of Japan who undertake official and public duties. Under the present Constitution of Japan, the Emperor is "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people". Other members of the Imperial Family perform ceremonial and social duties, but have no role in the affairs of government; the duties as an Emperor are passed so on. The Japanese monarchy is claimed to be the oldest continuous hereditary monarchy in the world; the Imperial House recognizes 125 monarchs beginning with the legendary Emperor Jimmu and continuing up to the current emperor, Akihito. Historical evidence for the first 29 Emperors is marginal by modern standards, but there is firm evidence for the hereditary line since Emperor Kinmei ascended the throne 1,500 years ago. Article 5 of the Imperial Household Law defines the Imperial Family as the Empress. In English, shinnō and ō are both translated as "prince" as well as shinnōhi, naishinnō, ōhi and joō as "princess".
After the removal of 11 collateral branches from the Imperial House in October 1947, the official membership of the Imperial Family has been limited to the male line descendants of the Emperor Taishō, excluding females who married outside the Imperial Family and their descendants. There are 18 members of the Imperial Family: The Emperor was born at Tokyo Imperial Palace on 23 December 1933, the elder son and fifth child of the Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kōjun, he was married on 10 April 1959 to Michiko Shōda. Emperor Akihito succeeded his father as emperor on 7 January 1989; the Empress Michiko Shōda, was born in Tokyo on 20 October 1934, the eldest daughter of Hidesaburo Shōda, president and honorary chairman of Nisshin Flour Milling Inc.. The Crown Prince, the eldest son of the Emperor and the Empress, was born in the Hospital of the Imperial Household in Tokyo on 23 February 1960, he became heir apparent upon his father's accession to the throne. Crown Prince Naruhito was married on 9 June 1993 to Masako Owada.
The Crown Princess was born on 9 December 1963, the daughter of Hisashi Owada, a former vice minister of foreign affairs and former permanent representative of Japan to the United Nations. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess have one daughter: The Princess Toshi The Prince Akishino, the Emperor's second son, second on the succession line, was born on 30 November 1965 in the Hospital of the Imperial Household in Tokyo, his childhood title was Prince Aya. He received the title Prince Akishino and permission to start a new branch of the Imperial Family upon his marriage to Kiko Kawashima on 29 June 1990; the Princess Akishino was born on 11 September 1966, the daughter of Tatsuhiko Kawashima, professor of economics at Gakushuin University. Prince and Princess Akishino have two daughters and a son: Princess Mako of Akishino Princess Kako of Akishino Prince Hisahito of Akishino The Prince Hitachi was born on 28 November 1935, the second son and sixth child of the Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kojun.
His childhood title was Prince Yoshi. He received the title Prince Hitachi and permission to set up a new branch of the Imperial Family on 1 October 1964, the day after his wedding; the Princess Hitachi was born on the daughter of former Count Yoshitaka Tsugaru. Prince and Princess Hitachi have no children; the Princess Mikasa is the widow of the Prince Mikasa, the fourth son of Emperor Taishō and Empress Teimei and an uncle of Emperor Akihito. The Princess was born on 4 June 1923, the second daughter of Viscount Masanori Takagi. Princess Mikasa has three sons with the late Prince Mikasa. Princess Tomohito of Mikasa is the widow of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, the eldest son of the Prince and Princess Mikasa and a first cousin of Emperor Akihito; the Princess was born on 9 April 1955, the daughter of Takakichi Asō, chairman of Asō Cement Co. and his wife, Kazuko, a daughter of former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida. She has two daughters with the late Prince Tomohito of Mikasa: Princess Akiko of Mikasa Princess Yōko of Mikasa The Princess Takamado is the widow of the Prince Takamado, the third son of the Prince and Princess Mikasa and a first cousin of Emperor Akihito.
The Princess was born the eldest daughter of Shigejiro Tottori. She married the prince on 6 December 1984. Known as Prince Norihito of Mikasa, he received the title Prince Takamado and permission to start a new branch of the Imperial Family on 1 December 1984. Princess Takamado has three daughters, one of whom remains a member of the Imperial Family: Princess Tsuguko of Takamado The following family tree shows the lineage of the contemporary members of the Imperial Family. Princesses who le
Enryaku-ji is a Tendai monastery located on Mount Hiei in Ōtsu, overlooking Kyoto. It was founded in 788 during the early Heian period; the temple complex was established by Saichō known as Dengyō Daishi, who introduced the Tendai sect of Mahayana Buddhism to Japan from China. Enryaku-ji is the headquarters of the Tendai sect and one of the most significant monasteries in Japanese history; as such, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto". The founders of Jōdo-shū, Sōtō Zen, Nichiren Buddhism all spent time at the monastery. Enryaku-ji is the center for the practice of kaihōgyō. With the support of Emperor Kanmu, the Buddhist monk Saichō ordained a hundred disciples in 807. Maintaining a strict discipline on Mt. Hiei, his monks lived in seclusion for twelve years of study and meditation. After this period, the best students were retained in positions in the monastery and others graduated into positions in the government. At the peak of its power, Enryaku-ji was a huge complex of as many as 3,000 sub-temples and a powerful army of warrior monks.
In the tenth century, succession disputes broke out between Tendai monks of the line of Ennin and Enchin. These disputes resulted in opposing Tendai centers at Enryaku-ji and at Mii-dera, known as the Mountain Order and the Temple Order. Warrior monks were used to settle the disputes, Tendai leaders began to hire mercenary armies who threatened rivals and marched on the capital to enforce monastic demands; as part of a program to remove all potential rivals and unite the country, warlord Oda Nobunaga ended this Buddhist militancy in 1571 by attacking Enryaku-ji, leveling the buildings and slaughtering monks. Enryaku-ji's current structures date from the late 16th century through the first half of the 17th century, when the temple was reconstructed following a change of government. Only one minor building survived, the Ruri-dō, located down a long, unmarked path from the Sai-tō complex. During reconstruction, some buildings were transferred from other temples, notably Mii-dera, thus the buildings themselves are old, though they have not always been at this location.
Today, most of Enryaku-ji's buildings are clustered in three areas: Tō-dō, Sai-tō, Yokokawa. The monastery's most important buildings are concentrated in Tō-dō. Sai-tō is a 20-minute walk away downhill from Tō-dō, features several important buildings. Yokokawa is more isolated and less visited, about a 1:30 walk, is most reached by bus, which connects the three complexes and other locations on the mountain. On April 4, 2006, Enryaku-ji performed a ceremony for former leaders of Yamaguchi-gumi, by far the largest Yakuza organization in Japan; because such temple ceremonies have been used for Yamaguchi-gumi fund-raising and demonstrations of power, the Shiga Prefectural Police requested that Enryaku-ji cease performance of the ceremony. Rejecting the request, Enryaku-ji received crime-related money for the ceremony and allowed nearly 100 upper-level Yamaguchi-gumi leaders to attend. After reports in the Asahi Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun newspapers, Enryaku-ji faced a nationwide scandal; the temple was criticized by the Japan Buddhist Temple Association, which led a movement against the Yakuza.
On May 18, all representative directors of Enryaku-ji resigned, apologizing on their website and in e-mails which were sent to 3,000 branch temples. Glossary of Japanese Buddhism Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto List of Buddhist temples in Kyoto List of National Treasures of Japan List of National Treasures of Japan List of National Treasures of Japan List of National Treasures of Japan Tourism in Japan Guoqing Temple Ponsonby-Fane, Richard Arthur Brabazon.. Kyoto: The Old Capital of Japan, 794-1869. Kyoto: The Ponsonby Memorial Society. Official website Japan Atlas: Enryaku-Ji Temple Photos of Mount Hiei and the three precincts of Enryaku-ji Temple
Seppuku, sometimes referred to as harakiri, is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. It was reserved for samurai, but was practiced by other Japanese people on to restore honor for themselves or for their families. A samurai practice, seppuku was used either voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies, as a form of capital punishment for samurai who had committed serious offenses, or performed because they had brought shame to themselves; the ceremonial disembowelment, part of a more elaborate ritual and performed in front of spectators, consists of plunging a short blade, traditionally a tantō, into the belly and drawing the blade from left to right, slicing the belly open. If the cut is performed enough it can sever the descending aorta, causing a rapid death by blood loss; the term "seppuku" is derived from the two Sino-Japanese roots setsu 切 and puku 腹. It is known as harakiri. Harakiri is in reverse order with an okurigana. In Japanese, the more formal seppuku, a Chinese on'yomi reading, is used in writing, while harakiri, a native kun'yomi reading, is used in speech.
Ross notes, It is pointed out that hara-kiri is a vulgarism, but this is a misunderstanding. Hara-kiri is Kun-yomi of the characters. So hara-kiri is a spoken term, but only to commoners and seppuku a written term, but spoken amongst higher classes for the same act; the practice of performing seppuku at the death of one's master, known as oibara or tsuifuku, follows a similar ritual. The word jigai means "suicide" in Japanese; the modern word for suicide is jisatsu. In some popular western texts, such as martial arts magazines, the term is associated with suicide of samurai wives; the term was introduced into English by Lafcadio Hearn in his Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation, an understanding which has since been translated into Japanese. Joshua S. Mostow notes that Hearn misunderstood the term jigai to be the female equivalent of seppuku; the first recorded act of seppuku was performed by Minamoto no Yorimasa during the Battle of Uji in the year 1180. Seppuku was used by warriors to avoid falling into enemy hands, to attenuate shame and avoid possible torture.
Samurai could be ordered by their daimyō to carry out seppuku. Disgraced warriors were sometimes allowed to carry out seppuku rather than be executed in the normal manner; the most common form of seppuku for men was composed of the cutting of the abdomen, when the samurai was finished, he stretched out his neck for an assistant to sever his spinal cord. It was the assistant's job to decapitate the samurai in one swing, otherwise it would bring great shame to the assistant and his family; those who did not belong to the samurai caste were never expected to carry out seppuku. Samurai could carry out the act only with permission. Sometimes a daimyō was called upon to perform seppuku as the basis of a peace agreement; this weakened the defeated clan so that resistance ceased. Toyotomi Hideyoshi used an enemy's suicide in this way on several occasions, the most dramatic of which ended a dynasty of daimyōs; when the Hōjō were defeated at Odawara in 1590, Hideyoshi insisted on the suicide of the retired daimyō Hōjō Ujimasa, the exile of his son Ujinao.
The practice was not standardised until the 17th century. In the 12th and 13th centuries, such as with the seppuku of Minamoto no Yorimasa, the practice of a kaishakunin had not yet emerged, thus the rite was considered far more painful. Seppuku's defining characteristic was plunging either the tachi, wakizashi or tantō into the gut and slicing the abdomen horizontally. In the absence of a kaishakunin, the samurai would remove the blade, stab himself in the throat, or fall with the blade positioned against his heart. During the Edo Period, carrying out seppuku came to involve a detailed ritual; this was performed in front of spectators if it was a planned seppuku, not one performed on a battlefield. A samurai was bathed, dressed in white robes, served his favorite foods for a last meal; when he had finished, the knife and cloth were given to the warrior. Dressed ceremonially, with his sword placed in front of him and sometimes seated on special clothes, the warrior would prepare for death by writing a death poem.
He would be dressed in the shini-shōzoku, a white kimono worn for death. With his selected kaishakunin standing by, he would open his kimono, take up his tantō or wakizashi —which the samurai held by the blade with a portion of cloth wrapped around so that it would not cut his hand and cause him to lose his grip—and plunge it into his abdomen, making a left-to-right cut. Prior to this, he would consume an important ceremonial drink of sake, he would give his attendant a cup meant for sake. The kaishakunin would perform kaishaku, a cut in which the warrio
Mount Hiei is a mountain to the northeast of Kyoto, lying on the border between the Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures, Japan. The temple of Enryaku-ji, the first outpost of the Japanese Tendai sect of Buddhism, was founded atop Mount Hiei by Saichō in 788. Hōnen, Nichiren, Dōgen and Shinran all studied at the temple before leaving to start their own practices; the temple complex was razed by Oda Nobunaga in 1571 to quell the rising power of Tendai's warrior monks, but it was rebuilt and remains the Tendai headquarters to this day. The 19th-century Japanese ironclad Hiei was named after this mountain, as was the more famous World War II-era battleship Hiei, the latter having been built as a battlecruiser. Mount Hiei has been featured in many folk tales over the ages, it was thought to be the home of gods and demons of Shinto lore, although it is predominantly known for the Buddhist monks that come from the temple of Enryaku-ji. John Stevens wrote the book The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei, chronicling the practice of walking long distances – up to 52 miles a day for 100 straight days, in an effort to attain enlightenment.
The practice of walking is known as the kaihōgyō. A 2010 US National Public Radio report described the sennichi kaihōgyō as...1,000 days of walking meditation and prayer over a seven-year period around Mount Hiei. Walked 26 miles a day for periods of either 100 or 200 consecutive days — a total distance about the same as walking around the Earth. Beyond the mountain itself, its forests, the views it affords – of Kyoto, of Ohara, of lake Biwa and Shiga – the main attraction is the temple complex of Enryaku-ji; the temple complex spreads out over the mountain, but is concentrated in three areas, connected by foot trails. There are more minor temples and shrines. Unusually, there are a number of French-themed attractions – the peak itself features the Garden Museum Hiei, themed on French impressionism, featuring gardens and French paintings, while there is a French-themed hotel, "L'hotel de Hiei"; the mountain is busiest during the daytime, but has some visitors in the evenings, for light-up displays and to see the night view of the surrounding towns.
The mountain is a popular area for hikers and a toll road provides access by automobile to the top of the mountain. There are two routes of funiculars: the Eizan Cable from the Kyoto side to the connecting point with an aerial tramway to the top, the Sakamoto Cable from the Shiga side to the foot of Enryaku-ji; the attractions on the mountain are quite spread out, so there are regular buses during the daytime connecting the attractions. The center for these is the bus center, in front of the entrance to the main temple complex at Tō-tō. Kaihōgyō Shugendō The 100 Views of Nature in Kansai Anthony Kuhn, "Monk's Enlightenment Begins With A Marathon Walk," National Public Radio. - Enryakuji
Virtual International Authority File
The Virtual International Authority File is an international authority file. It is a joint project of several national libraries and operated by the Online Computer Library Center. Discussion about having a common international authority started in the late 1990s. After a series of failed attempts to come up with a unique common authority file, the new idea was to link existing national authorities; this would present all the benefits of a common file without requiring a large investment of time and expense in the process. The project was initiated by the US Library of Congress, the German National Library and the OCLC on August 6, 2003; the Bibliothèque nationale de France joined the project on October 5, 2007. The project transitioned to being a service of the OCLC on April 4, 2012; the aim is to link the national authority files to a single virtual authority file. In this file, identical records from the different data sets are linked together. A VIAF record receives a standard data number, contains the primary "see" and "see also" records from the original records, refers to the original authority records.
The data are available for research and data exchange and sharing. Reciprocal updating uses the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting protocol; the file numbers are being added to Wikipedia biographical articles and are incorporated into Wikidata. VIAF's clustering algorithm is run every month; as more data are added from participating libraries, clusters of authority records may coalesce or split, leading to some fluctuation in the VIAF identifier of certain authority records. Authority control Faceted Application of Subject Terminology Integrated Authority File International Standard Authority Data Number International Standard Name Identifier Wikipedia's authority control template for articles Official website VIAF at OCLC