The secret meaning of forenames for Balinese folks

Traveling to Bali for the first time? You may face a kind of misunderstanding that almost any native you encounter presents him or herself as either of 4 notions.

I recall my first-ever journey to Bali as if it was not far away. Being absolutely clueless, I originally settled in Kuta (never again experience).

Unluckily, the lone communications I had with natives there included repeatedly answering ‘no’ if I inquired on some tourist’s stuff or constant ‘yes’ if I asked for some Bintang.

Several days later I got an advice to go to a divine locality forenamed the Bukit Peninsula, which is home for the well-known Uluwatu breaking waves.

bali surfing

Staying at my holiday home in Bingin, I noticed that the native Balinese folks were more open-hearted and outgoing than the less tourist-tolerant natives of Kuta.

I happened to know lots of people, had some really fine talks, and cherished my fondness of the Balinese community.

There was that thing, though, I was puzzled with. In about 7 days I must have encountered 6 ‘Ketuts’, both men and women. It seemed rather strange but I assumed it was a very popular forename.

After 13 journeys to Indonesia (9 to Bali), I have got to know that all Balinese folks – men as well as women – are called either of 4 forenames, depending on their birth rank:

  1. Wayan— first-born forename
  2. Made— second-born forename
  3. Nyoman— third-born forename
  4. Ketut—  forth-born forename

balinese names

Do you know what are children named if there are more than four of them in a family? Start again from Wayan and go on full-circle.

Pretty extraordinarily, isn’t it? Nonetheless, that doesn’t add any mix-up for the Balinese locals.

Such naming tradition is peculiar to Balinese people only, not all Indonesian citizens. The folks of Java, Sumatra, etc. do not abide by this practice.

Now you are more prepared for the trip!



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