Bark books come predominantly from the Batak region of Sumatra in Indonesia. They are also found in the Celebes Islands (Sulawesi).
What is a bark book?
Bark strips are cut from the Alim tree; bark books have also been made from bamboo. In India bark books have been made from bhoja-patra or bhurja-patra (birch bark).
Inscriptions are written in lines parallel to the lines of the bark. More often than not the texts deal with magic and divination. They are a kind of notebook for the medicine man
Method of making a bark book:
From the earliest times, the easiest way to make a book was by folding. Bark books are accordion-style folded bark strips, upon which text is inscribed.
I found these two at the National Library, of unknown date.
Batak book MS 3048
No covers; folded leaves accordion style; inscribed.
Batta Book – NanKivell Collection MS4295
Smooth, naturally curved covers, folded leaves accordion style, inscribed. From Sulawesi.
Also has a woven tie to keep book closed. Currently housed in clamshell box.
Voorhoeve, P(1951). Batak Bark Books. YY 091.095981 v951
Bark book collections:
British Museam Add 4726 (oldest?)
Royal Netherlands Academy of Science
Van der Tuurk Collection
John Rylands Library