The story of the Bunker brothers, thanks to whom the term “Siamese twins” appeared (6 photos)

10 May 2024
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Chang and Eng Bunker were Siamese twins, from whose time this term appeared. They were born in 1811, fused at the chest, and made history. Their path was not easy, but the brothers eventually achieved success. They became fathers of 21 children, took up plantations and became rich.

Twins Chang and Eng Bunker were born in 1811 in a fishing village in Siam (later renamed Thailand). Their father was a Chinese fisherman and their 35-year-old mother was half Chinese and half Malay. According to the biography of the twins, the midwives who delivered their mother recoiled in horror when they saw that the babies were born fused in the chest area. The mother literally saved their lives by unraveling the umbilical cord and repositioning the babies so that they lay looking at each other. She named them Chang and Eng.

Thanks to their mother, the twins have been involved in sports and special gymnastics since childhood in order to “stretch” the areas of their bodies that have grown together. They succeeded, and it greatly simplified everyday tasks. As the boys grew older, they began helping the family sell duck eggs. One day, the unusual teenage twins were noticed by a British merchant, Robert Hunter. He saw potential in them, and easily convinced the poor family that the twins should come West with him. The boys' mother agreed, but the king of Siam forbade the twins to be taken out: he wanted to show them to everyone at court. It took five years to convince the king. Chang and Eng's mother was paid $500 to let her sons go with Hunter for an agreed-upon 30-month stay.

Chang and Eng with their wives and two sons

In 1829, 17-year-old twins set off on a ship to Massachusetts, USA. They turned out to be smart and dexterous: they quickly mastered the English language and could run up the mast of the ship as quickly as the sailors on board. They were first shown to the public in Boston as "Siamese twins" - and they quickly became a sensation. From then on, the brothers began performing all over America: they performed four hours a day, six days a week, entertaining thousands of people with somersaults, backflips, extraordinary abilities in checkers and chess, and surprising people with strength tricks.

In 1830, the brothers first came to Great Britain and visited London, where they were examined by the world's leading doctors. The best doctors in America also studied twins in order to study such an unusual phenomenon. The main question that tormented doctors was whether it was possible to separate them? However, they did not come to a common opinion. The twins themselves seemed to be in no hurry to “separation”: they understood that their peculiarity could bring them a lot of money. In 1831, at the age of 20, the brothers returned to the United States and took matters into their own hands. They no longer needed Hunter's services and hired their own manager. They also demanded that they be treated with respect - especially those who criticized them and spread rumors that their mother sold them into slavery.

The brothers spent the next seven years constantly traveling, performing and earning money. They then became US citizens and took the last name Bunker. The brothers organized their lives: they opened a store, bought a large plot of land, started farming and built a spacious house for themselves. They even became slave owners, purchasing several dozen people to work on their new plantation. According to the stories, the twins had sex with many women for many years - they even had conflicts with each other on this basis. But in 1843 they decided to tie the knot with two sisters, Adelaide and Sarah.

During their lives, the twins became fathers of 21 children: Eng became the father of 11 children, Chang - ten. Despite the twins' wealth, after the South was devastated by the American Civil War, money problems began - and they went back to performing. In 1868 they traveled to Great Britain, where they encountered a wave of criticism and prejudice. In 1870, while returning from a tour of Europe, Chang suffered a stroke, and in January 1874, when the twins were 62 years old, he fell ill with bronchitis and died a few days later. By the time the doctor arrived, Eng had died that same day. A subsequent autopsy revealed that Chang had a blood clot in his brain and that Eng had died of fright.

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