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A Guide to Balinese Names

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The enchanting world of Bali might get reflected in many aspects and forms. From the cultures, the arts, the nature, the beaches up to the local people bear unique enchantment of the island. As soon as you meet the locals and get familiar with them, you will find out that the fancy Balinese culture manifests even to the most personal identity of the people: their Balinese name.

Balinese names are unique as they root down to the culture and social phenomenon that has been inherited from generations to another. Typically, Balinese names are characterized by the use of four birth-order-related names and, further, identifier of caste systems.

Normally, you will find people with these birth-order names around Bali, but not without exception.

While Wayan (which literally means ‘oldest’) might be the most common name for first born children, there are other names given to the first born, such as Putu, Gede and Ni Luh (only for female).

Made (which is believed to be derived from the word ‘madya’ meaning ‘middle) is a common second born children’s name. Yet, there are other names, too, to indicate second-borns regardless of the sex, i.e., Nengah, Ngurah and Kadek.

Third born children are named Komang or Nyoman (which is believed to have been derived from the word ‘anom’ meaning ‘young’ or ‘little’)

Fourth born children are named Ketut – which might be believed to be derived from the word ‘ketuwut’ meaning ‘to follow’. However, people also believe that it might also be a derivation of ancient word ‘kitut’ meaning smallest banana at the end of the bunch.

In the ancient time, Balinese people practiced a traditional (and also ‘social’) birth control system, which might not encourage people to have more than three children, hence the names. However, if a family has more than four children, the cycle repeats from the beginning; therefore, fifth child might be named Wayan and the sixth might be named Made.