Artist Club
What is Indigenous Materials?
(by David Danio Jr  12/6/2016)

The Indigenous Material. Is an adjective meaning "originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country". Indigenous materials, therefore, are materials that are naturally and locally found in a specific place or area.

Some areas are less endowed than others, so indigenous materials vary depending on the geographic features and location and climate condition of a region. These materials in effect become a large influence on the lifestyle and culture of a region's people overtime with the skills and crafts handed down through generations.

Identifying Indigenous Material. It is something you do not need to spend or have trouble fetching; in other words, you do not need to use major and improved transport systems. Indigenous materials also do not require costly processing, which consume energy and other resources, and can be used even in their raw, untreated forms.

Indigenous Material in our Locality. The indigenous materials commonly found in our country largely consist of a variety of timbers, canes, grass, and palms. We have a large variety of soft and hardwoods used in the construction and furniture industry, a few of the most popular we know are narra, kamagong and mahogany. The ever-famous bamboo is used in both industries as well as in many handicrafts, where abaca and rattan are also greatly used and woven into wicker products. The coconut tree is also a favorite indigenous material for its flexibility and overall usability from the root to the leaves.

From a large variety of plants in our locale we can also resource many different kinds of natural fibers as well. These fibers when spun into threads and woven together create very fine clothing and textiles.

Other indigenous materials in the country that are commonly known and used creatively in crafts and decoration are capiz, pearls, corals, and seashells, being an archipelago naturally abundant in beaches and marine resources. Even being in the Pacific Ring of Fire has its effect on the availability of volcanic refuse as a resource. Lahar and other igneous rocks are vastly being incorporated in construction.

How do we Utilize Indigenous Material? Today, indigenous materials are fairly considered more for their aesthetic purpose, with little respect for their potential functionality, than for conventional urban development. We have grown used to buildings enclosed by concrete and glass that we get fascinated when we enter any place enclosed by traditional bamboo poles or coconut timber.

"Unfortunately, the materials we use naturally affect the environment. Their production and transportation deplete resources and consume energy. More and more building materials are becoming scarce not only the raw materials but also the energy needed to produce them and if present trends continue, some of the most common raw materials and energy sources, such as oil and natural gas, will be exhausted within about the next century. And it is on these that we have become increasingly dependent since World War II as natural materials have been supplemented with synthetic chemicals and plastic products.

Traditional materials like clay and stone still abound, and timber can be replenished by properly managed reforestation. In addition, if these materials are easily reused or recycled, they produce little or no pollution and they are reabsorbed into the natural cycles of the environment once their use as building materials is over. Energy from fossil fuels is becoming scarce and the amount used in the production ad transportation of materials is high. The best materials therefore are those materials that need little processing and/or are local. Locally grown and reclaimed timber entails only a low energy cost expenditure. Clay dug from the site of the house and used for bricks or adobe is another example of a material that uses almost no energy except that required for the building work. In contrast to natural materials, synthetic and processed products, such as plastics, aluminum, steel, glass, and oven-fired bricks and clay tiles, require a high-energy expenditure on both production and transportation.

The advantages of using indigenous materials? Hereon we can conclude that the natural indigenous materials available in our country are ecological; therefore they are elementally

Renewable and abundant, coming from diverse natural sources and whose production has low impact on the environment
Naturally nonpolluting, emitting no harmful vapors, particles or toxins into the environment

Energy efficient, using low energy in production, transport, and use, and generally coming from local regions
Produced and or harvested under good working conditions and fair means

Low waste and capable of being reused and recycled (Pearson)
The disadvantages in using indigenous materials?

Durability is good but still not as or failsafe as in processed materials like steel and plastics

Is vulnerable to weathering and deterioration due to moisture
Lower resistance to impact (compared to processed metals)
Craft skills are much slower in processing than engineering and technology

Those produced with craft skills in effect are more expensive than factory/machine made alternatives that are lower in buying cost and are more advertised and readily available

See more Articles
Samahang Makasining (Artist Club), Inc.
Artist Club of the Philippines

Copyright 2007 Samahang Makasining (Artist Club), Inc.

Powered by AACC