Ma (마/馬) is a Korean and Chinese family name which literally means "horse". It is one of the most common family names in China. As of 2006, it ranks as the 14th most common Chinese surname in Mainland China, 74th most common Korean Surname in Korean Peninsula and the most common surname within the Chinese Muslim community, specifically the Hui people, Dongxiang people, and Salar people. However, this surname should not be identified with the Korean surname 'Ma' (마) which has the same pronunciation with the Chinese 'Ma' but has its own distinct history.
Ma Clan traced its origins from an honorific title borne by a prince of the state of Zhao during the Warring States period (403–221 BCE). He was awarded the title Noble Ma Fu after repeatedly distinguishing himself as a general, and subsequently, his descendants adopted part of the honorific title, Ma, as their surname.
There are two Chinese characters for the surname Ma (馬 and 麻), only one of which is frequent enough to be treated here (馬). Two clans use this character: the Mokcheon clan (originated from Mokcheon-eup, Cheonan Dongnam-gu, Southern Chungcheong Province) and the Jangheung clan (originated from Jangheung County, Southern Jeolla Province).
The founding ancestor for both Ma clans in Korea, Ma Ryeo (마려/馬黎) migrated to Korea from China during the Han Commanderies period (1st century BCE). The Ma clans played fairly important roles in the formation of Baekje Kingdom, one of the Korean Three Kingdoms. Ma Yook-chim (마육침/馬陸沈), a Baekje general who witnessed the Downfall of Baekje during the reign of King Uija was the founder of Mokcheon Ma Clan (목천 마씨/木川馬氏). Even though the records are not consistent, it seems that Ma surname was originally known as Yong and either during the reign of King Taejo Wang Geon of Goryeo (877–943) or King Gyeongsun of Silla (897–978), the clansmen changed their surname to Ma.
Based on the 2000 Korean Republic Census - provided by Statistics Korea (통계청/統計廳/Tonggyecheong/KOSTAT), there are 35,096 people in 11,076 families who bear the surname of Ma. Jangheung Lineage is the largest among two, where this lineage consists of 28,337 people in 8,985 families. Jangheung Ma Clan (장흥 마씨/長興馬氏) was founded by Ma Hyeok-in (마혁인/馬赫仁) during the reign of King Munjong Wang Hwi, 11th King of Goryeo Dynasty. Ma Hyeok-in was the second son of Ma Jeom-joong (마점중/馬占中) and younger brother of Ma Hyeon (마현/馬鉉). His elder brother, Ma Hyeon was a part of Mokcheon Ma Clan.