There are many variations of the Latinized transliteration from the Chinese.
It has been variously spelled Ma, Mah, Mow, Mew but they all refer to the same Chinese clan name and indeed the pronunciation varies depending on the dialect.
In Chinese, the name "ma" means "horse" as in the equestrian. This suggest that the name originated from a meaningful moniker (in a manner similar to some Anglo-Saxon clans).
The first records of the Ma clan appears in historical records about 2,000 years ago during the Han Dynasty.
(Of course yours truly is 100% Han Chinese)
My parents got their family surname probably by way of a Hong Kong Immigration officer in 1949 when my parents on both sides fled Communist invasion into the (then) British Colony of Hong Kong.
My maternal grandfather. Chan Lin-Yau was born in China 1917 and died Vancouver, Canada July 26, 2012. He witnessed the atrocities of the Japanese Occupation of China during the Second World War, but never talked much about what he had seen. He and his family escaped to the British held New Territories in 1949 during the Communist Revolution and was the father of my mother, aunt and four uncles on my mother's side. Presently interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. R.I.P.
My Grandmother (1903 - 1992)
I grew up with her in my early childhood. She was the second wife of my grandfather. She had 5 children - my 2 uncles and 3 aunties. She lived through the Japanese occupation and told me first-hand eye witness accounts of people being murdered in the streets by the Japanese invaders. She spoke often of the desperate living conditions during those times when she survived on rice, oil and some dried fish...when they were lucky to get any that day. As a result she was fond of telling me to "eat all the rice in your bowl because there were times when she did not have any rice". She also believed white people are all barbarians and often told me: "Never marry a white girl!!!" When she immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong in 1969 I remember she went on a tour of Stanley Park in Vancouver and brought home a bunch of pine cones...she had never seen pine cones before. I was at her bedside when she died in the spring of 1991. She is now interred in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Burnaby, BC, Canada. R.I.P.
My Great Grandfather (1882- 1937)
My Great Great Great Grandfather!!!! (1838 - 1914)
My Great Great Great Grandmother
The above two paintings were done on some kind of special occasion. They were originally head to food paintings of my ancestors sitting in chairs. My mom burned them for some stupid reason in the early 90's. These digital scans are all that remain....