The character “山” (mountain) is a pictograph; in oracle-bone script, it looks like three mountains. The number three in Chinese means multitude; so, three mountains represent a chain of mountains. Later, three mountains were simplified into three vertical strokes: this is how the Chinese character “山” came into being.
Where there is “山”, there is “水” (water); where there is “水”, there is “川” (a river). The character “水” in oracle-bone script is a pictograph and looks like the moving water; the character “川” looks like water moving on both sides of the mountain. The word “水” can refer to a river or moving water and to various kinds of liquid; whereas “川” only refers to rivers.
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