So what, you may ask, does any of this have to do with the subject of today's blog? My purpose is to answer two questions that should have come to mind: (1) What is an antimacassar? and, (2) How did it get its name?
We will start with question (1) What is an antmacassar? An antimacassar is a piece of fabric or needlework that is placed on the top of the back of upholstered furniture (stuffed chairs, sofas, etc.--you probaby even have some at home, treasured pieces of needlework crocheted or embroidered by a grandmother or special Aunt) to prevent hair grease from damaging the upholstery on the back of said piece of furniture. (I will note here that not only chairs suffer from this problem. If you ever visited the Department of Energy, you my have noticed an ugly greasy stain on the wall behind the guards chairs at the main entrance desk. This stain was caused by oil, grease or whatever, from hair. The guards were, and probably still are, in the habit of kicking back their chairs and resting their heads against the wall. I can't describe the feelings this display raised in me, so I won't attempt it. Some antimacassars on the wall might have fixed the problem.)
The second question is also of interest. How did the antimacassar get its name? Ah, apparently during Victorian times fashionable gentlemen used a hair oil with a base of coconut or palm oil combined with oils from flowers such as those from the ylang-ylang tree. Most, or all, of the ingredients were imported to Europe from Makassar, the provincial capital of South Sulawesi. You guessed it--the name of the hair pomade was Macassar. So the lovely piece of crochet or embroidery is called an antimacassar to prevent macassar oil from ruining the furniture.