We're travelling a bit for #FolkloreThursday today. Here's Jaulian, a world heritage site at Taxila in Pakistan (took this pic almost exactly 10 years ago so #ThrowbackThursday too!). Jaulian is an ancient Buddhist monastery, and one of the earliest universities in the world.
Here they found fragments of manuscripts written on birch bark, which was common practice across Gandhara, an ancient region which stretched across modern-day north-west Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Taxila was one of its capitals.
A well-known example is the Bakhshali Manuscript, unearthed near Mardan in 1881 by a farmer, and was a collection of 70 sheets of birch bark, inscribed with the mathematical concept of zero - possibly the earliest written recording on the Indian subcontinent. It's been variously dated to somewhere between AD200-900. Not bad for a bit of birch bark!
Himalayan birch (Betula utilis) is different to the species which grow here in the Highlands (usually Betula pendula and Betula pubenscens), but their bark can also be used for writing or inscribing on.
Just love a bit of birch!
If you'd like to hear more stories and folktales of Aviemore and the Cairngorms (and indeed more further afield!), join an upcoming short guided walk!