Balinese Caste System 2014.12.19

balinese caste system

If you've ever been to Bali, you would be forgiven if you thought every second person's name was Wayan. Balinese children are named according to which caste the family belongs to and the order in which they are born. Since 90% of the population belong to one caste, names like Made, Wayan and Komang are extremely popular.

Balinese society is based on the Hindu caste system, although it's not as complex as the form practiced in India. This simplified version places people into 4 different castes:

○ Brahmana (priest)

○ Ksatria (ruler / warrior)

○ Wesia (merchant / official)

○ Sudra (rice grower)


Members of the four castes use various dialects of the Balinese language to address people of a different caste. Middle Balinese is generally used to speak to people whose caste is unknown, to avoid possible disrespect.

The national language of Indonesia, known as Bahasa Indonesia and which is taught in schools, simplifies communication to an extent however if speaking Balinese then the correct dialect should be used for each caste.


Each caste has names that are unique to that caste, and confusingly both boys and girls use the same names. To differentiate between males and females with the same name, boys will use “I” before their name and girls will use “Ni” before their name.

Brahmana (priest)

This is the caste of priests and holy men who perform the all-important religious ceremonies.

Ida Bagus - for a male
Ida Ayu or Dayu - for a female

Ksatria (ruler / warrior)

Members of this caste include some nobility and kings (ie. members of the Royal Family).

Anak Agung, Agung, Dewa - for a male.
Anak Agung, Agung, Dewi, Dewayu - for a female

Cokorda, Dewa Agung for members of the kingdom ruling clan.

The Ksatria caste also often has the following middle names:

Raka - older sister / brother
Oka - child
Rai - younger sister / brother
Anom - young woman
Ngurah - an indication of authority

Wesia (merchant / official)

Gusti (lord) - for men and women
Dewa - for a man
Desak - for a woman

Sudra (rice grower)

The majority of the population (over 90%) in Bali belong to this caste.

Wayan, Putu, Gede - first born male child
Wayan, Putu, Iluh - first born female child
Made, Kadek, Nengah - second born male and female child
Nyoman, Komang - third born male and female child
Ketut - fourth born male or female child

A fifth child reverts back to the same name as the first born child.

This unique system is just another fascinating part of the Balinese culture. So don't be surprised if you call "Made" in a crowd and several people turn around!

Kura-Kura Bus Bali


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