The Uniqueness Of Balinese Names

October 06, 2017

Balinese Names Explained

If you've been to Bali, you've probably met and got acquainted with a few Balinese people, and you've probably wondered, "Why do the Balinese have almost the same names?" These elaborate Balinese names carry with them loads of meaning. Let us give you an example: One of Bali's most well-known Balinese guitarist, is named I Wayan Balawan. His core name is Balawan, then how about "I Wayan"?

Photo by: Travel Alphas

In this week's newsletter, we will discuss the uniqueness of each Balinese name. Generally, the names of the Balinese people reflect their lineage and birth order, which explains why many of their names are so long! Read on to learn more.

Firstly, Balinese names can be differentiated based on their gender or sex. Usually, Balinese men will have the word "I" before their first name and Balinese women will have "Ni" or "Luh". This way, it is easier to recognize the gender of the Balinese people by simply looking at their names.

Photo by: BaliUpdateToday.WordPress.com

Aside to "I" or "Ni", the first names of the Balinese people could be coming from their lineage. Basically, there are 4 major groups in Bali that reflect each lineage and bloodline and these are called "Catur Wangsa". There are those who form the "Brahmana", usually the holiest and most revered bloodline in Bali. Then, there are the "Kshatriya" or knights, "Waisya" or traders, and "Sudra"or farmers.

Balinese people from the Brahmana bloodline will have "Ida Bagus" for men and "Ida Ayu" for women as their first names. The Kshatriya could have "Cokorda", "Dewa", "Gusti", or "Anak Agung" for men and "Cokorda Istri", "Dewa Ayu", "Gusti Ayu", or "Anak Agung" for women as their first names. "Pasek"and "Pande" are also used as first names.

Photo by: Internship Bali

Second names usually reflects birth order. This is an ancient cultural tradition that makes Bali so unique. During your visit to Bali, you may meet many Putu, Ketut, Wayan or Made. Usually, the firstborn child in Bali will be named "Putu", "Wayan", or "Gede". The second born child will be named "Made", "Kadek", or "Nengah". The third born child will be called "Nyoman" or "Komang". And the fourth one will be named "Ketut". The sequence is repeated after the fourth child. It means, the fifth born child will be named "Wayan", or "Putu" Continued and the sixth child "Made", "Kadek", and so on.

Photo by: @kresna.pekerr

After their first and second names, the Balinese people will have their own names. For example, I Wayan Balawan's own name is Balawan. Nowadays, third names are more modern than before. In older times, the Balinese people would name a child based on the situation or day of the birth. For example, if a child was born during the full moon, he/she will be named "Purnama". If a child is born during a thunderstorm, he/she will be named "Gredeg" which means the sound of thunder. The Balinese people also carry their family names, usually as their last names.

In today's modern age, this unique and traditional naming system is slowly losing popularity and is being replaced with more modern names. The first and second names are also being obliterated. What are your thoughts on the Balinese names? Let us know what you think! Do share with your family and friends and your holiday snaps, stories and videos with us. Follow us on Facebook and Instagramand tag us for a chance to be featured!