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Special Exhibition

Special exhibition of donated relics: <Dilkusha and Chain of Amber>
Title Special exhibition of donated relics: <Dilkusha and Chain of Amber>
Period 2018-11-23 ~ 2019-03-10
Location Special Exhibition Hall B, Seoul Museum of History
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Special exhibition of donated relics: <Dilkusha and Chain of Amber>


Special exhibition of donated relics:


▶ Dilkusha and Chain of Amber

There is a house called ‘Dilkusha’ in Haengchon-dong, Jongno-gu. This house, currently designated as a registered cultural asset, is to be opened to public after renovation work. Its original owners were Albert and Mary Taylor, a married couple. While living in Seoul from 1917 to 1942, they experienced a wide array of activities; relics left at that time are records of the time. The appearance of Seoul (Gyeongseong) from the perspectives of Albert and Mary Taylor is rather different in light of the fact that it was observed by foreigners. Through this exhibition we can understand how Mr. and Mrs. Taylor viewed Joseon.


▶ Dilkusha, known to the world

There used to be a red brick house built in Western style next to a 500-year-old ginkgo tree in Haengchon-dong, Seoul. The home was called a ‘haunted house’ because of the spooky atmosphere nearby; in the 1990s, it was presumed to have been the office building of the ‘Korea Daily News’ or a ‘Bethel House.’ Meanwhile, Professor Kim Ik-sang of Seoil University in Seoul had been asked by American Bruce Taylor to discover the home that he used to inhabit during his childhood, and it took two months to locate it. The house was called ‘Dilkusha’ and was inhabited by Albert and Mary Taylor, a foreign couple. In 2006, Bruce Taylor rediscovered his birthplace 67 years after his birth; with this the hidden story behind the red brick house in the ginkgo village became known to the world


▶ Albert and Mary Taylor

Albert Taylor is the son of George Alexander Taylor who operated a gold mine in Unsan. He came to Joseon at the age of 22 and engaged in the gold mining industry. Albert met Mary Linley in Yokohama during his business trip to Japan and they held a wedding in Mumbai, India, in 1917. In fall of that year, the couple began their lives as newlyweds in Joseon.

In 1919 when Bruce Taylor, son of Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, was born, the March First Movement (or the Korean Independence Movement) broke out in Joseon. Albert Taylor made every effort to report events related to the independence movement in Joseon including Gojong’s national funeral, the March First Movement and the Jeam-ri massacre, as well as brutalities of Japanese imperialists. The Taylors built their own home in Haengchon-dong, Jongno-gu in 1923 and gave it the name of ‘Dilkusha.’

The Pacific War broke out in 1941 following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and in the following year, Japan expelled the couple forcefully from Joseon. After Joseon was liberated in 1945, the Taylor family did their best to return to Joseon, but Albert Taylor suddenly died of a heart attack in 1948. Mrs. Taylor brought her husband’s ashes to Korea on her own and interred the ashes at Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery in Seoul. She returned to the United States and died in 1982.


▶ Chain of Amber

‘Chain of Amber,’ written by Mary Taylor, is an autobiographical book that recorded Mr. and Mrs. Taylor’s life in Seoul from 1917 until 1942. Her son, Bruce Taylor, published the book in 1982 by arranging Mary’s posthumous manuscripts after her death in 1982. The ‘chain of amber’ that appears in the book was a wedding gift Albert presented to Mary. As all contents in the book are narrated through the chain of amber, it is a document with high symbolic significance. The book has thus been kept as a precious treasure by the Taylors. The book vividly records the lifestyle of residents of Seoul back then, as well as folk religions and her experiences in Joseon, including her thoughts during her tour of Mount Geumgang.


▶ Dilkusha

‘Dilkusha’ was built next to a big gingko tree in Haengchon-dong, Jongno-gu. ‘Dilkusha’ has the meaning of ‘Heart of Delight’ in Sanskrit, and the building was named after a building that Mary Taylor saw during her trip to Lucknow, northern India. In the right corner of the house is inscribed ‘DILKUSHA 1923 PSALM CXXVII. I’ on the foundation stone. A two-story structure with a basement, the house has a base made with cut granite stones on which red bricks are stacked.


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