Dr. Park Young-sook (b. 1932), who worked as a dentist, amassed an impressive collection of traditional household objects, preserving the boudoir culture which flourished during the Joseon Dynasty. Along with her husband, Huh Dong-hwa, the president of the Museum of Korean Embroidery, she has passionately collected Korean cultural properties and donated many traditional household items to the National Museum of Korea.
Most of Dr. Park’s donations are items which were used by women in the main room of the house, including a number of dadeumitdol or “fulling blocks,” indicating her special interest in affection for them. Dadeumi or “fulling mallets” were used to beat cloth that was stretched over a block, in order to make it smoother and softer. Fulling is part of the traditional cultures of Korea, China, and Japan, though Korea is currently the country doing the most to keep the tradition alive. In this regard, Dr. Park’s donation of her dadeumi collection is particularly significant. The dadeumitdol in her collection vary in terms of material, shape, and pattern, allowing them to be appreciated not only as practical household goods, but also as art objects in the fields of traditional craft and sculpture. Other items also strike a balance between function and beauty.
These, include examples of indu (small heart-shaped irons), which were used to straighten creases and set the form of clothing; charcoal fire irons, for ironing and sterilizing; and a stone brazier for heating iron implements. In addition, an exquisite mother-of-pearl sewing box conveys the bright, gentle atmosphere of a Joseon-era main room for women.
Dr. Park’s donated items are splendid examples of tools that were regularly used by people in the past to make, trim, and maintain clothing. Moreover, they allow us to imagine the love and devotion of a mother, and her earnest efforts to care for her family.