Balinese names : Wayan, Made, Nyoman or Ketut

The 4 Balinese Names

All Balinese people are named one of just 4 names: Wayan, Made, Nyoman or Ketut. Both men and women. In Bali, Indonesia, such a 4-names-only system is entirely real and intact. Here’s how it works:

Every Balinese child is simply named by his or her order of birth. The first born, boy or girl, is Wayan. The second born is Made (pronounced ma day). The third born is Nyoman. And the 4th born is Ketut.  If a family has more than four children, the cycle repeats itself, and the next ‘Wayan’ may be called Wayan Balik, which loosely translates to ‘another Wayan’.

Women are given the honorific ‘Ni’ before their name, as in Ni Wayan. It’s much like ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’. Men use ‘I’, as in I Wayan, much like ‘Mr.’

A few versions of these 4 names do exist and are also used quite commonly. Some Balinese people have names that denote their caste or clan.

The first born child could alternately be named Putu (though that name is traditionally reserved only for upper caste families).

The second child could be named Kadek instead of Made.

The third could be Komang, or even NgNga (a very rural name) instead of Nyoman.

However, the 4th child (and multiples of 4th) is destined to be Ketut, and only Ketut.

Most Balinese people also give their children a second or third Hindu name that has a positive meaning. Examples include Suardika, which means ‘guiding light’, Setiawan (faithful), or Dewi (goddess). Sometimes Balinese people use this Hindu name or shorten it to create a nickname. For example, Budi might be short for Budiasa, Widi could be a shortening of Widiarta, and Nuri might be short for Nuriasih.

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