9. Ma: Yama, Muma, Koma — Mountains and Horses


Higashi-no-yama, Gifu, by Okunomichi

Yama, Mountain

9)YamaWe show here the writing of yama, mountain. This is an example of utuho-tai used to mean a location relevant to the situation. Here, in ya: a person on the mountain is looking up at the sky above the horizon (horizontal bar) for the rising movement of the sun (represented by the vertical bar). In ma, ma-sou is looking at energy coming down from above. The horizontal bar of ya means horizon; the horizontal bar of ma means the zenith of the sun. The movement of the sun is indicated by the vertical bar in both cases. The top of the mountain is a place that gets light for the longest time; it is closest to Ame. It is a place of gratitude for this gift from Ame. Perhaps this explains why Nihonjin have revered mountains from ancient times.

Muma and Koma, Horses

muma komaIn Wosite literature, horses are mentioned many times. They were treasured as special animals. There are two names for horses. The horse that is natural or wild is called muma. The horse that one rides is called koma. Notice the difference in the ideograms of mu and ko. The wild horse is indicated by the ideogram of ho-tai overlaid with m symbol implying a more fiery temperment. Mu means able to move freely with natural energy. The domesticated horse is stable and fixed, as the hani-tai indicates. The common syllable ma is the ‘certain place’ of utuho-tai, namely the horse’s body.

Training of Horses

We learn from lines 3652 – 3659 of Hotuma Tutae (not shown but transliterated here):

kosi sue norite     yawa-yawa to     muma no asitori     ikisu ahi     awasu kaname no     nori-nori so     tune ni kokoro o     u-heki nari     muma ha umarete     mono sirasu     ata-hasiru toki     noriotu so     kanete wosiye ha     kanahu mono

Toyoke taught how to train wild horses: firmly seated on the horse’s back, slowly and gently keep the stepping in rhythm with the breath, for this is essential. Always get to know the horse’s mind. Wild horses don’t know but to run freely, and can toss the rider to the ground; so if we keep training on a daily basis, the horse will become well-accustomed to being ridden.