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The Balinese naming system is used by the Balinese people of Bali and in the western parts of the neighboring island of Lombok, Indonesia, which is characterized by the use of four 'typical' names. Since most Balinese are Hindus, most names are Sanskrit, while others still use native Balinese names.
Regardless of sex, each person receives one of four names based on birth order. Despite significant variations due to caste membership, regional customs and variations in the Balinese language between the north and the south of the island, there are four names in Balinese culture that are repeated frequently. The firstborn is "Wayan" or "Gede" or "Putu", second is "Made" or "Kadek", third is "Nyoman" or "Komang" (Man or Mang for short), and fourth is "Ketut" (often elided to Tut). (The vowels are pronounced similarly as in Spanish or Italian.)
Balinese names are rendered into Roman script by the Romanization of the Indonesian language. The spelling to pronunciation relationship is said to be "perfect" because the spelling of words was revised significantly in the 1970s and/or 1980s (and even more recently).
The first born is Wayan, and if there is a fifth child, he/she is often called Wayan Balik (or Wayan "again"). Balinese people are given other names, including a new "name" after death. Generally, everyone uses birth order names to refer to each other. "Given" names may be chosen due, for example, to the influence of popular culture or politics. Like some other Indonesian cultures, Balinese do not use family names.
- First born names : Wayan, Putu, Gede, Ni Luh (female only)
Wayan is Balinese originally meant Wayah or oldest.
- Second born names : Made, Kadek, Nengah
Made/Nengah means madya or middle. Kadek means little brother/sister
- Third born names : Nyoman, Komang
- Fourth born names : Ketut
The naming system is a method to instantly recognize caste. Caste, unlike in India, is relatively unimportant to the Balinese and the idea of it probably flowed into Balinese culture as close links with Hindu-Buddhist Java evolved. The inclusion of the caste may also be due to Airlangga, a half Balinese who became king of Daha in Java, c. 1000 AD.
It is possible that the naming system of the peasant farmers of Bali precedes the idea of caste. These people are largely a mix of 'native' (early proto Polynesian type) Balinese and very early Hindu-Buddhist missionaries and their followers (who did not arrive in Bali with successive waves of Javanese nobles and military rulers). They form the caste level that would be called Sudra in India, that is, people outside the triwarna, or three colors (Wesya, overseers and minor aristocracy, Ksatria, nobles, kings and warriors and Brahmana, the highest caste comprising teachers, priests, writers and philosophers). This "farmer caste" comprises the vast freemasonry of the Balinese villages, as set out above, this caste uses names to denote birth position. It is an ingenious way for peasant farmers to keep track of inheritance questions, Wayan, for first born, Made for second, Nyoman for third and Ketut for fourth. The three castes, use a caste identifier as the first part of a name:
There are no special names for people from Sudra caste. They usually only use the names which denotes birth position. Traditionally they will only add word "I" for male and "Ni" for female in front of their names.
- I Made Mangku Pastika, governor of Bali
Names for Wesya caste : for trader and farmer. They usually add Ngakan, Kompyang, Sang, or Si in front of their name. Most of Wesya descendants do not use the name anymore because of assimilation of this group with Sudra.
- Major General TNI Ngakan Gede Sugiarta Garjitha
Names for Ksatria caste :
- I Gusti Ngurah (male), I Gusti Ayu (female)
- Anak Agung (male), Anak Agung Ayu or Anak Agung Istri (female)
- Tjokorda, sometimes abbreviated as Tjok (male), Tjokorda Istri (female)
- /Ida I Dewa/ Dewa Agung/I Dewa (male), I Dewa Ayu/Desak (female)
Gusti literally means "leader" as members of this caste were often families promoted from the farmer caste. They often use positional names for the birth order of their children. Sometimes they borrow the whole order of the farmer caste names, so it is possible to find a name like I Gusti Ketut Rajendra, male of the Wesya caste, fourth born, whose personal name is Rajendra.
The word Agung means "great", or "prominent". The word Tjokorda is a conjunction of the Sanskrit words Tjoka and Dewa. It literally means "the foot of the Gods", and is awarded to the highest members of the aristocracy. A typical name might be Anak Agung Rai, meaning a Ksatria, whose personal name means "The Great One". It is more difficult to differentiate sexes by name alone among the Ksatria people, though personal names often tell, like Putra, or "Prince", for a boy, and Putri, or "Princess", for a girl.
In 1352 - 1380, Bali was led by Sri Kresna Kepakisan. He was the ancestor of King of Gel-Gel Kingdom in Kelungkung Semara pura-Bali (second Maja Pahit in Bali), now his descendant named Ida I Dewa for the King in Kelungkung, I Dewa for the King family (no longer become king)
- I Gusti Ngurah Rai, military commander and national hero
- Ide Anak Agung Gde Agung, former Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affair
- Tjokorda Gde Raka Soekawati, president of State of East Indonesia
- Dewa Made Beratha, a former governor of Bali
Names for Brahmana caste :
- Ida Bagus (male), Ida Ayu (female)
A typical name might be Ida Ayu Ngurah, meaning "Brahman woman, Beautiful highness whose personal name is Ngurah," (in English, "gift from heaven"). Example:
Inter-caste marriages occur these days. Those who marry someone from a higher caste will adopt the name Jero (literally meaning 'come in') in front of their name.
The naming system also differentiates due to reasons like inheritance right. Another explanation may also be to reduce confusion between males and females - I (pronounced 'ee') is added as a prefix for males, and Ni (pronounced 'nee') for females. Therefore, typical names might look like I Wayan Pedjeng, or Ni Ketut Sulastri. These mean, respectively, 'first born male whose personal name is Pedjeng' (in English, moon), and 'fourth born female whose personal name is Sulastri' (in English, fine light).
Unlike Javanese names, Balinese names of Sanskrit origin do not change some of the letter 'a's into 'o's (such as the Javanese 'Susilo', from 'Susila').
- Zajonc, R. B. 2001. The family dynamics of intellectual development. American Psychologist 56: 490–496, p. 490.