The Man With Two Faces – Angel and A Devil
The 1896 medical encyclopedia Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine, co-authored by Dr. George M. Gould and Dr. Walter L. Pyle, gives an account of Mordake with no mention as to when he lived. Though the encyclopedia describes the basic morphology of Mordake’s condition, it provides no medical diagnosis for the rare deformity. With no photographs of Mordake known to exist—he likely lived many generations before practical photography became ubiquitous—such a birth defect might have been a form of craniopagus parasiticus (a parasitic twin head with an undeveloped body), a form of diprosopus (bifurcated craniofacial duplication), or an extreme form of parasitic twin (an unequal conjoined twin).
Mordake has been the subject of various texts, plays, and songs. The description of Mordake’s condition is somewhat similar to those of Chang Tzu Ping and Pasqual Pinon. Both Mordake and Pinon are featured as the “2 Very Special Cases” on a list of “10 People With Extra Limbs or Digits” in 1976 edition of The Book of Lists.
He quickly became famous and attracted visitors from all around India. Rich noblemen would arrange private shows in their own homes, allowing the guests to freely examine the boy.
The boy had one head on top of the other, both similar in size and development to that of a normal child. The second head ended in a stump and its eyes and ears were not fully developed. It also appeared to function separately. When the boy showed emotions like crying or smiling, the second head wouldn’t always match them. When the main head was fed, the second one produced saliva and would attempt to suckle if was given the opportunity.
Also, the heads had different sleep cycles; when the boy was asleep, the secondary head would often stay awake.
Even though the Two-Headed Boy of Bengal received a lot of attention, none of it was medical. He died at the age of four after being bitten by a cobra. His body was exhumed by an agent of the East India Company and his skull was brought back to England. A dissection revealed the boy’s heads had separate brains, each one properly developed.
His skull is on exhibit at the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of London.