Dr. Ding and His Three Extreme Fingernails

Dr. Ding, with three long fingernails. Hartzman Stereoview Collection.

Dr. Ding, with three long fingernails. Hartzman Stereoview Collection.

As a kid, I used to love flipping through the Guinness World Records books—especially the human body section. There, I discovered Robert Wadlow, who stood 8′-11.5″ tall and the tallest living woman (at the time) Sandy Allen, at 7′-7″. There were the fattest twins, the littlest people, and of course, the folks with the insanely long fingernails. How did they function with those things?

I recently came across such a character, named Dr. Ding of Foochow, China, who grew three nails at his dying mother’s request. Ding was only a baby when his mother passed and informed those who would care for him of her wish.

According to the back of the card pictured above, each of the nails had a unique significance: one would be dedicated to the power of Heaven, one to the power of Earth, and the third to Confucius.

Of course, such lengthy nails served as a self-imposed handicap. Ding required servants to perform basic tasks for him, like washing his face and combing his braid.

As long as the doctor’s nails are, they’re nowhere near the length of Guinness World Record holder, Shridhar Chillal. He holds the record for the longest nails on a single hand, measuring more than 358 inches in cumulative length. See what that’s like in the video below.