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As I'm starting to explore more kanji, I've come across these two ways of writing すわる (to sit): 座る and 坐る.

I would like to know when to use one over the other. Are there nuances that would make one very inappropriate to use in a special setting? Is one being used for sitting with a roof over one's head (a house) vs under open sky (on a bench in a park)?

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    坐 is old school 座. Now, you might only see the former in books and museums (it's quite common to see 坐像{ざぞう}). May be there are nuances but I never heard of. – 永劫回帰 Apr 1 '16 at 14:59
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To built up a bit on my comment (坐 is old school 座. Now, you might only see the former in books and museums (it's quite common to see 坐像{ざぞう}). May be there are nuances but I never heard of.) 語源-allguide has an entry on 座る.

【意味】 座るとは、膝を折り曲げて腰を下ろす。ある地位や役に就く。

【座るの語源・由来】
座るは、落ち着いて動かないことを表す「据わる(すわる)」と同源。
「居ても立ってもいられない」と言うように、古く、「立つ」の対義語は「居る」であった。 平安時代末頃から、「居る」が「存在する」といった意味で多く用いられるようになったことから、他動詞「すう(据う)」が自動詞化した「すわる」が、「立つ」の対義語として用いられるようになった。
漢字の「坐」は「人+人+土」で、地面に尻をつけることを示している。
「座」の漢字は、「广(いえ)+坐」で、家の中で人が座る場所のことである。
「坐」が動詞、「座」が名詞として用いられたが、常用漢字では「座」に統一された。

Translation:

座る means bend your knees and seat your rear. Or, be employed at a position.

[Etymology of 座る]
座る shares its etymology with 据{す}わる and means being calm without moving.
As seen in 「居{い}ても立ってもいられない」(boils at the core but can't afford not keeping calm), the antonym of 立つ was 居る.
Since, by the end of the Heian era, 居る became used a lot in the meaning of to exist the transitive verb 据{す}う turned into the intransitive verb 据{す}わる and (すわる) started to be used as the antonym of 立つ.
The kanji 坐 is made of 人+人+土 and means to seat one's rear on the ground (as you have guessed in your question).
The kanji 座 is made of 广(いえ)+坐 and refers to a place where one would seat in a house. 坐 was used as a verb, whereas 座 was used as a noun. But this 坐 is not a 常用漢字, 座 is now used for both.

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坐る is very rarely used. I have seen it little.

As far as I searched, 坐る was a Kanji for a verb, and 座 was a Kanji for a noun that means a place to sit in early Showa era.
Though the government enacted the following rules in Showa 31th(1956). http://kokugo.bunka.go.jp/kokugo_nihongo/joho/kakuki/03/pdf/doon.pdf
× 坐→座

It seems that they were unified into one Kanji by this rules. That is to say, 坐 is old Kanji.

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