Chang and Eng Bunker
Overview
 
Chang and Eng Bunker (May 11, 1811 – January 17, 1874) were the conjoined twin
Conjoined twins
Conjoined twins are identical twins whose bodies are joined in utero. A rare phenomenon, the occurrence is estimated to range from 1 in 50,000 births to 1 in 100,000 births, with a somewhat higher incidence in Southwest Asia and Africa. Approximately half are stillborn, and a smaller fraction of...

 brothers whose condition and birthplace became the basis for the term "Siamese twins".
The Bunker brothers were born on May 11, 1811 in Siam (now Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

), in the province of Samutsongkram
Samut Songkhram Province
Samut Songkhram ) is one of the central provinces of Thailand.Neighboring provinces are Phetchaburi, Ratchaburi and Samut Sakhon. Local people call Samut Songkhram Mae Klong. The province is the smallest of all Thai provinces areawise...

, to a fisherman and a mother (Nok or นาก [Nak] in Thai). Because of their Chinese heritage (as they were born from a Thai Chinese
Thai Chinese
The Thai Chinese are an overseas Chinese community who live in Thailand. Thailand is home to the largest, oldest, most prominent, and most integrated overseas Chinese community in the world with a population of approximately 9.5 million people...

 father and Chinese-Malay
Malay people
Malays are an ethnic group of Austronesian people predominantly inhabiting the Malay Peninsula, including the southernmost parts of Thailand, the east coast of Sumatra, the coast of Borneo, and the smaller islands which lie between these locations...

 mother.), they were known as the "Chinese Twins" in Siam.
Encyclopedia
Chang and Eng Bunker (May 11, 1811 – January 17, 1874) were the conjoined twin
Conjoined twins
Conjoined twins are identical twins whose bodies are joined in utero. A rare phenomenon, the occurrence is estimated to range from 1 in 50,000 births to 1 in 100,000 births, with a somewhat higher incidence in Southwest Asia and Africa. Approximately half are stillborn, and a smaller fraction of...

 brothers whose condition and birthplace became the basis for the term "Siamese twins".

Life

The Bunker brothers were born on May 11, 1811 in Siam (now Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

), in the province of Samutsongkram
Samut Songkhram Province
Samut Songkhram ) is one of the central provinces of Thailand.Neighboring provinces are Phetchaburi, Ratchaburi and Samut Sakhon. Local people call Samut Songkhram Mae Klong. The province is the smallest of all Thai provinces areawise...

, to a fisherman and a mother (Nok or นาก [Nak] in Thai). Because of their Chinese heritage (as they were born from a Thai Chinese
Thai Chinese
The Thai Chinese are an overseas Chinese community who live in Thailand. Thailand is home to the largest, oldest, most prominent, and most integrated overseas Chinese community in the world with a population of approximately 9.5 million people...

 father and Chinese-Malay
Malay people
Malays are an ethnic group of Austronesian people predominantly inhabiting the Malay Peninsula, including the southernmost parts of Thailand, the east coast of Sumatra, the coast of Borneo, and the smaller islands which lie between these locations...

 mother.), they were known as the "Chinese Twins" in Siam. They were joined at the sternum by a small piece of cartilage
Cartilage
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in many areas in the bodies of humans and other animals, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the elbow, the knee, the ankle, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs...

. Their liver
Liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

s were fused but independently complete. Although 19th century medicine did not have the means to do so, modern surgical techniques would have easily allowed them to be 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
Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Wilkesboro is a town in and the county seat of Wilkes County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 3,159 at the 2000 census, and it is the second largest municipality in the county. The 2010 Census listed the town's population at 3,044. The town is located along the south bank of the...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, the twins were attracted to the area and settled on a 110 acre (0.4451546 km²) farm in nearby Traphill, becoming naturalized
Naturalization
Naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship and nationality by somebody who was not a citizen of that country at the time of birth....

 United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 citizens.

Determined to start living a normal life as much as possible, the brothers settled on a plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

, bought slaves, and adopted the name "Bunker". On April 13, 1843, they married two sisters: Chang to Adelaide Yates and Eng to Sarah Anne Yates. This made their respective children double first cousins. In addition, because Chang and Eng were identical twins, their children were genetically equivalent to half-siblings, thus making them genetically related in the same manner as half-siblings who are also first cousins.

Their Traphill home is where they shared a bed built for four. Chang and his wife had 10 children; Eng and his wife had 11. In time, the wives squabbled and eventually two separate households were set up just west of Mount Airy, North Carolina
Mount Airy, North Carolina
Mount Airy is a city in Surry County, North Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 10,388.-History:Mount Airy was settled in the 1750s as a stagecoach stop on the road between Winston-Salem and Galax, Virginia. It was named for a nearby plantation...

 in the community of White Plains
White Plains, North Carolina
White Plains is a census-designated place in Surry County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 1,049 at the 2000 census.- Geography :White Plains is located at ....

 – the twins would alternate spending three days at each home. During the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 Chang's son Christopher and Eng's son Stephen both fought for the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

. Chang and Eng lost part of their property as a result of the war, and were very bitter in their denunciation of the government in consequence.

After the war, they again resorted to public exhibitions, but were not very successful. They always maintained a high character for integrity and fair dealing, and were much esteemed by their neighbors. The twins died on the same day in January 1874. Chang, who had contracted pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

, died rather suddenly in his sleep. Eng awoke to find his brother dead, and called for his wife and children to attend to him. A doctor was summoned to perform an emergency separation, but Eng refused to be separated from his dead brother. He died three hours later. Chang's widow died on April 29, 1892 and Eng's widow died on May 21, 1917.

Legacy

The fused liver
Liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

 of the Bunker brothers was preserved and is currently on display at the Mütter Museum
Mütter Museum
The Mütter Museum is a medical museum located in the Center City area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It contains a collection of medical oddities, anatomical and pathological specimens, wax models, and antique medical equipment. The museum is part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. The...

 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

. Numerous artifacts of the twins, including some of their personal artifacts and their travel ledger, are displayed in the North Carolina Collection Gallery in Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This includes the original watercolor portrait of Chang and Eng from 1836.

The short story
Short story
A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas and novels. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because...

 The Siamese Twins by Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

 was based on the Bunkers. In 1996, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a 90-minute radio play called United States about the lives and deaths of Chang and Eng Bunker. The writer was Tony Coult and the director was Andy Jordan. Transmission was on June 17, with a cast that included Bert Kwouk and Ozzie Yue
Ozzie Yue
Ozzie Yue is an English actor, guitarist and singer. He is most noted for his roles in television programmes such as Father Ted, All Quiet on the Preston Front and Coronation Street as well as for roles in films such as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Syriana and Nuns on the Run...

 as the twins. A Singapore musical based on the life of the twins, Chang & Eng
Chang & Eng
Chang & Eng is a Singaporean musical theatre production directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham based on the lives of the Siamese twins, Chang and Eng Bunker. The music and lyrics were by Ken Low, with the book by Ming Wong, costumes by Niphon Tuntiyothin, set design by Thoranisorn Pitikul, lighting by...

,
was directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham
Ekachai Uekrongtham
Ekachai Uekrongtham is a Thai theatre and film director. Based in Singapore, Ekachai is the founding artistic director of ACTION Theatre, a Singapore professional theatre company....

 and written by Ming Wong, with music by Ken Low. Chang & Eng premiered in 1997 and has since been performed around Asia, starring Robin Goh as Chang Bunker, Sing Seng Kwang as Eng Bunker, and Selena Tan
Selena Tan
Selena Tan is an actress and the owner of Dream Academy, most notable as one of the famous Dim Sum Dollies. Tan started acting at age 14. She was educated at Fairfield Medthodist Secondary School and graduated with a law degree from National University of Singapore.-Movies and TV appearances:*...

 as their mother, Nok. Subsequent productions starred Edmund Toh as Chang Bunker and RJ Rosales
RJ Rosales
Roseo José “RJ” Rosales is a Filipino Australian singer, actor, musical theatre performer and TV presenter.-Early life:Born in Manila, his family migrated to Sydney, Australia when he was thirteen. He spent his early adult years in Sydney, where his family still resides, while he constantly moves...

 as Eng Bunker. The best-selling and multiple-award-winning 2000 novel Chang and Eng by Darin Strauss
Darin Strauss
Darin Strauss is an American writer based in Brooklyn, NY. Strauss's memoir Half a Life won the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for memoir/autobiography.-Biography:...

 was based on the life of the famous Bunker twins. The film rights to the novel were purchased by award-winning filmmaking team Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman
Gary Leonard Oldman is an English actor, voice actor, filmmaker and musician.A member of the 1980s Brit Pack, Oldman came to prominence via starring roles in British films Meantime , Sid and Nancy and Prick Up Your Ears , with his performance in the latter bringing him his first BAFTA Award...

 and Douglas Urbanski
Douglas Urbanski
Douglas Urbanski is an American theater impresario, raconteur and film producer.Urbanski is a business partner with actor Gary Oldman and he also runs a talent management firm, DMG...

. Oldman is currently working on the screenplay and will also direct.

I Dream of Chang and Eng, a play
Play (theatre)
A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed...

 by noted Bay Area playwright Philip Kan Gotanda
Philip Kan Gotanda
Philip Kan Gotanda is an American playwright and filmmaker. Much of his work deals with Asian American issues and experiences.- Biography :...

 and based on the lives of the Bunker Twins was produced in workshop form at UC Berkeley and was produced on their main stage in the spring of 2011.

Descendants

Chang and Eng Bunker fathered a total of 21 children and their descendants, including several sets of non-conjoined twins, now number more than 1,500. Many of their descendants continue to reside in the vicinity of Mt. Airy and descendants of both brothers continue to hold joint reunions. Two hundred descendents reunited in Mount Airy in July 2011 for the two hundredth birthday of the twins, which was the twenty-second annual reunion.

Prominent descendants include United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 Major General
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 Caleb V. Haynes
Caleb V. Haynes
Caleb Vance Haynes was a United States Air Force major general. The grandson of a famous Siamese Twin, he was used by the Air Force as an organizer, able to create air units from scratch...

 who was a grandson of Chang Bunker through his daughter Margaret Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bunker. General Haynes's son, Vance Haynes
Vance Haynes
Caleb Vance Haynes Jr. , known as Vance Haynes or C. Vance Haynes Jr., is an archaeologist, geologist and author who specializes in the archaeology of the American Southwest...

, earned a doctorate in geosciences, performed foundational fieldwork at Sandia Cave
Sandia Cave
Sandia Cave is an archaeological site near Bernalillo, New Mexico that is open to the public. It is rather difficult to reach, as it is located high up on the steep wall of Las Huertas Canyon on the north end of the Sandia Mountains....

 to determine the timeline of human migration through North America, and served as professor at several universities. Alex Sink
Alex Sink
Adelaide "Alex" Sink is an American politician of the Democratic Party. Sink was the Chief Financial Officer for the state of Florida and treasurer on the board of trustees of the Florida State Board of Administration...

, former Chief Financial Officer of Florida
Chief Financial Officer of Florida
The Chief Financial Officer of Florida is a statewide constitutional officer of Florida. The office was created in 2002 following the 1998 reforms of the Florida Cabinet....

, is a great-granddaughter of Chang Bunker, and was the Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 nominee in the 2010 Florida gubernatorial election.

Further reading

  • The Two: The Story of the Original Siamese Twins, Amy and Irving Wallace, Simon & Schuster, 1978, hardcover, ISBN 0-671-22627-4
  • Eng & Chang: The Original Siamese Twins, David R. Collins, Silver Burdett Press, 1994, paperback, ISBN 0-382-24719-1; hardcover, ISBN 0-87518-602-5
  • Chang and Eng: A Novel, Darin Strauss
    Darin Strauss
    Darin Strauss is an American writer based in Brooklyn, NY. Strauss's memoir Half a Life won the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for memoir/autobiography.-Biography:...

    , Dutton, 2000, paperback, ISBN 0-452-28109-1; hardcover, ISBN 0-525-94512-1

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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