Customers, friends and internet trolls alike ask us all the time, “What’s a Musa?”
Some assume it’s an acronym for “Military USA,” or even “Made in the USA,” but the reality is, Musa means “Warrior” in Korean and it pays homage to one of the store’s founders’ heritage as well as all of our partners’ history as combat veterans of the United States Military.
We have however, received numerous messages recently from folks who saw our “Musa” calligraphy designs and chimed in with “Hey that’s not Korean; it says ‘wushi’ in Chinese!!” or “Hey that’s not Korean; it says ‘Bushi’ in Kanji (Japanese)!”
Interestingly, we noticed that most of the outrage comes from non-Asians who may have spent a semester abroad, or folks just really into Anime looking to flex their limited knowledge of the Asian culture.
So we thought we’d take a moment for a brief East Asian cultural knowledge drop. You may be telling yourself, “Why should I care?!” Well there’s a good chance you may know a buddy in the barracks or at your local watering hole who just got some sick Asian ink when it really says “chicken noodle soup,” and you can impress them with your well-rounded knowledge of another culture.
So technically, none of the comments from the internet-outrage guys are wrong… they just lack cultural context.
So here it goes…
First, the calligraphy that is commonly known as “Chinese Calligraphy” actually pre-dates the modern notion of China way back when the East Asian continent was divided into separate nations and borders that don’t resemble what they are today.
Many of them spoke different languages but they all used the same writing system.
How is this possible?
It’s because this calligraphy was not phonetic like the Western alphabet system, but rather it’s symbol/definition based. So, the same calligraphy that will mean “Warrior” to anyone who can read it, will actually sound differently depending on which part of Asia the speaker/reader is from.
Those who speak Mandarin will read it “wushi,” those who speak Japanese will read it “bushi,” and those who speak Korean will read it “Musa.” But, the most important thing is that the Warrior spirit is universal and no matter how you say it, wear it or ink it. It’s what’s on the inside that defines a Warrior.
Now that you are fully educated on the subject, feel free to go forward and rock some Asian calligraphy on your apparel or body parts and if someone feins outrage of your cultural appropriation you can kill them with knowledge…
The Asian Admin at The Musa Store