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Chang Bunker and Eng Bunker (May 11, 1811 – January 17, 1874) were the conjoined twin brothers whose condition and birthplace became the basis for the term "Siamese Twins".


The Bunkers in their later years

The Bunker brothers were born on May 11, 1811 in Siammarker (now Thailandmarker), in the province of Samutsongkrammarker, to a fisherman and a mother (Nok or นาก [Nak] in Thai). They were joined at the sternum by a small piece of cartilage. Their livers 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 Wilkesboromarker, North Carolinamarker, the twins were attracted to the town and settled there, becoming naturalized United Statesmarker citizens.

Determined to start living a normal life as much as possible, the brothers settled on a plantation, 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. 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 Carolinamarker in the community of White Plainsmarker – the twins would alternate spending three days at each home. During the American Civil War Chang's son Christopher and Eng's son Stephen both fought for the Confederacy. 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 on January of 1874. Chang died from bronchitis possibly from a brain clot 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.


One of their descendants is Alex Sink, Chief Financial Officer for the state of Florida and currently a Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida.

The fused liver of the Bunker brothers was preserved and is currently on display at the Mütter Museummarker in Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniamarker. Numerous references about 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 The Siamese Twins by Mark Twain 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 Ozzy Youe as the twins. A Singapore musical based on the life of the twins, Chang & Eng was directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham 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 as their mother Nok. Subsequent productions starred Edmund Toh as Chang Bunker and RJ Rosales as Eng Bunker. The best-selling and multiple-award-winning 2000 novel Chang and Eng by Darin Strauss 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 and Douglas Urbanski. Oldman is currently working on the screenplay and will also direct.


  1. Calisota online
  2. This source confirms the wives' dispute, but disagrees on the number of children and says nothing about the household arrangements.
  3. Whirling upstream in Hollywood: Douglas Urbanski [update].

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

See also

External links

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