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is a digraph that is read より. Where does it originate from?

Is it a ligature, like & <- et, or German ß <- ſs -> ss? (Wikipedia claims this, citing no source.) Also, if it is a ligature, what did the ligation process look like (e.g. what are the intermediate forms between より and )?

Alternatively, could it be a derivative of or another kanji? (Another non-authoritative source which I have now lost track of claims this.)

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    I think it's quite clearly a ligature of よ and り – don't forget that this is from the period when Japanese was written vertically. – Zhen Lin Aug 30 '13 at 22:27
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    BTW, よ is derived from 与 and り from 利. This is general knowledge, so I don't have a source, though :( – execjosh Aug 31 '13 at 2:28
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There are quite a few old (17th century) letters on this page which use the digraph ゟ as ligature of よ and り. For example see the fifth line from the left of the following letter, which reads 「家来之者方ゟ可申」.

ゟ

As @ZhenLin points out, it is not too far a stretch of your imagination that ゟ comes from joining よ and り in vertical writing. All that is really lost is the loop of the よ.

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    Could you point out where ゟ appears on that page? I'm not very good at reading calligraphic Japanese. – senshin Aug 31 '13 at 2:29
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    @senshin: It is third character from the bottom of the fifth line from the left. 家来之者方ゟ可申 – execjosh Aug 31 '13 at 5:44

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