An antimacassar is a small cloth placed over the backs or arms of chairs, or sofas. Historically, the Edwardian male penchant for oiling one's coiffure continued into Victorian times; necessitating the invention of washable decorative fabric blotters. They are still used in luxury rail lines and immaculate Japanese taxis.
The name is derived from the Indian unguent for the hair commonly used in the early 19th century, macassar oil— the poet Byron called it, "thine incomparable oil, Macassar."
They first came to have elaborate patterns, often in matching sets for the various items of parlour furniture; they were either made at home using a variety of techniques such as crochet or tatting, or purchased from drapers.
The original antimacassar was often made of white crochet-work, stiffened and uncomfortable, but in the third quarter of the 19th century it became simpler and was made of soft coloured stuffs, usually worked with a simple pattern in tinted wools or silk.