Birch bark

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Thin sheets peeled from the inner bark of the Birch tree. Birch bark was used as a textile and writing paper in India and the Far East from at least the 2nd century. For preparation, the strips were pulled from the tree, dried, then softened with oil (Batton 2000). The strips were laminated using a natural Gum then flattened between wooden covers.

Covered basket
MFA# 1973.161

Synonyms and Related Terms

birch bark paper; birchbark paper; birch-bark paper; bhoja-patra

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Soluble in organic solvents.
  • Insoluble in cold water.
  • Thickness = 0.2-0.5 mm.

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • S.S.Batton "Seperation (sic) Anxiety: The Conservation of a 5th Century Buddhist Gandharan Manuscript" WAAC Newsletter, 22(1):15-17, 2000. O.P.Agrawal, "Investigations for Preservation of Birch-Bark Manuscripts" in Preprints of ICOM Committee for Conservation , Ottawa, 1981.
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982