Thai-Chinese-Vietnamese for ‘horse’. In Thai, this word, also transcribed ma, carries a high tone and is not to be
confused with the same word (mah),
that has a rising tone and means ‘dog’. The Chinese name
for ‘horse’, is also mah (马),
but is pronounced with a (low) falling-rising tone, while in Vietnamese the word ma (mã) is used, as in Bach Ma, i.e. ‘White Horse’, the name of
a 220 km² National Park (fig.) in central
Vietnam, between the Hai Van Pass (fig.) and the city of Hué (Huế). In
feng shui, the horse is
considered auspicious and is associated with success and fame, and
two horses together stand for a strong partnership in either
business or marriage. In
seven horses together may symbolize the unification of China (fig.) under
its first Emperor
Qin Shi Huang Ti (fig.),
whom unified his kingdom with 6 others, each represented by a horse.
Besides this, the horse is the seventh animal in the
Chinese zodiac (fig.).
It represents strength and energy, and those born in the Year of the
Horse are said to have an outgoing personality. The
horse features on many a
Thai postage stamp, including the
Songkraan Day Postage
Stamp, issued in 2002 (fig.).
Many of the horses found in Thailand are small in size and are
mostly used as beasts of burden and to a lesser extend for riding, especially by the army and hill tribe people, who mostly use a smaller kind of horse called
mah klaeb (fig.). Horses are also used in the making of antivenom for snakebites. The venom is injected into horses, who consequently produce the serum (fig.).
In legends and mythology, the
horse is the mount of several characters, including
Tinh Toa La Han
and —sometimes in addition— it may also appear as a
character in its own right, e.g.
or in stories associated with horses, such as
Nang Kaew Nah Mah
In most Asian cultures, the horse is presents the
feature of nature, as well as the fire element in the
Five Elements. This might have
given rise to the
of iron (fig.)
in the Vietnamese folk story of
Thanh Giong. See also