What is in a name? The Balinese name tradition.

Kathy Barrett | 22 March, 2021

            What is in a name? The Balinese name tradition.

There is a saying in Bali that goes "Harimau mati meninggalkan belang, gajah mati meninggalkan gading, manusia mati meninggalkan nama" In English "Tigers die leaving stripes, dead elephants leaving their tusks, humans dying leaving names"

In Bali, names are everything. Yet, if you ever visit (and you should), you will hear many people share the same names. That is because all Balinese people are named one of just 4 names. This applies to both men and women. Here’s how it works. Balinese families name their children in their order of birth. 

1st  born is named Wayan.
2nd  born is named Made.
3rd  born is named Nyoman.
4th  born is named Ketut.

According to Balinese beliefs, a family should only have 3 kids. The fourth child, Ketut, means “Little Banana” as is considered a “bonus” child. If a family does have more than 4 children, then the cycle repeats itself with the 5th born being named Wayan again. Women are given an honorary “Ni” in front of their name, like a “Ms. or Mrs.” here while the men are given “I”, much like “Mr.”

So, when you do visit Bali don’t be surprised when you meet many wonderful locals with the same names!