Chang and Eng Bunker

From Academic Kids

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A painting of Chang and Eng Bunker, circa 1836

Chang Bunker and Eng Bunker (May 11, 1811January 17, 1874) were the twin brothers whose condition and birthplace became the basis for the term Siamese twins (conjoined twins). They were born in Siam (now Samutsongkram, Thailand), to a Chinese father (Ti-eye) and a half-Chinese/half-Cham mother (Nok).

The Bunkers were joined at the sternum by a small piece of cartilage. Their livers were fused but independently complete. Even though 19th-century surgical technology was not nearly as advanced as it is today, they could have easily been separated. In 1829, they were discovered in Siam by British merchant Robert Hunter and exhibited as a curiosity during a world tour. Upon termination of their contract with their discoverer, they successfully went into business for themselves. In 1839, while visiting Wilkesboro, North Carolina with P.T. Barnum, the twins were attracted to the town and settled there, becoming naturalized United States citizens.

The Bunkers settled on a plantation, bought slaves, and adopted the name "Bunker." They were accepted as respected members of the community. On April 13, 1843, they married two sisters: Chang to Adelaide Yates and Eng to Sarah Anne Yates. Chang and his wife had ten children; Eng and his wife had 11. In time, the wives squabbled and eventually two separate households were set up. The twins died on the same day in 1874.

Further reading

  • The Two: The Story of the Original Siamese Twins, Amy and Irving Wallace, Simon & Schuster, 1978, hardcover, ISBN 0671226274
  • Eng & Chang: The Original Siamese Twins, David R. Collins, Silver Burdett Press, 1994, paperback, ISBN 0382247191; hardcover, ISBN 0875186025

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