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The Secondborn Of Lipah

28.9.2017

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We sat at Cafe Indah and enjoyed grilled fish. It was raining, typical for the off-season. We were the only guests. A 40-year-old man came up and greeted us. When asked his name, the man replied, "Made." "Oh, like our neighbour," we said in amazement. "Is this a name for both sexes?" Yes, men and women alike can be called Made, Made responded.

A woman came by and called out something to our new acquaintance. He beckoned to her. "This is my wife, Made" he said. We smiled. "She is a masseur and has a small boutique on the beach." What he was doing, we asked him. He worked in a hotel and trained the young Badminton players of Lipah. "My best student is called Made, and has just won the Regional Championship in Amlapura."

"How is it that so many people are called Made," we asked. "All second-born in Bali are to be called Made", we were instructed. "Made or sometimes Kadek." We listened devoutly to our first lesson in Balinese naming, which is unique worldwide. All Balinese are named after their birth order. The first born is named Wayan, or sometimes Putu or Gede. The third-born children are called Nyoman or Komang. The fourth child is always called Ketut. So far so good. We are attentive students, or at least wanted to give the impression.

Another man came up, who looked like his spitting image. "This is my brother, Made. He is the owner of this restaurant and plays the flute." We paused. "Are you twins?" we asked naively. This was vigorously denied. No, the brother was actually number 6 in the sibling sequence. But the Balinese naming begins after 4 children simply from the beginning again. The fifth child is then again Wayan, the sixth Made and so on. There is certainly a profound psychological and cultural background to this naming, but the avoidance of misunderstandings does not appear to have been a priority in the introduction of this system.

"How do you know who is meant when someone calls the name?" we asked. Made answered our lack of originality with a patient smile. "We do not know, we just ask."

 

 

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