Balinese Names

Small balinese family

When I set out to write about Balinese given names I thought I would just have to explain the four most common names that locals seem to use everywhere. But the Balinese Naming system is somewhat more complex than that.

The most common names are Wayan, Made, Nyoman, and Ketut but that is not the complete list. There are alternatives to these names. Nor do Balinese have distinct family names used by all members of the same family. However the Balinese naming system has an order that helps you identify people in different families and social groups.

The Balinese naming system is used by up to 90% of the Balinese population in Bali and the adjacent islands of Lembongan, Ceningan and Penides. together with western parts of Lombok.This system is thought to have been followed by all Balinese until the Majapahits invaded from Java in the Fourteenth Century and brought the Hindu caste system, Catur Warna, with them.

Ordinary Balinese people were then considered to be part of the lowest Hindu caste, known as the Sudra while the Majapahits considered themselves to be in the “higher” Hindu castes: the Triwarna (meaning 3 colours ) namely Wasya, Ksatria and Brahmana. Before that the Balinese, had no caste system, even though they were Hindu.

The Sudra caste system then incorporated the Balinese naming system while the higher classes had separate naming systems that are described further on in this article.Balinese people in the Sudra caste name their children depending on the order they are born as seen below, the same names apply to both males and females.