Fulcra in the Form of a Mule's Head



Fulcra in the Form of a Mule's Head


1st Century BC




Bronze, silver, copper
5 x 7 x 2 5/8 in. (12.7 x 17.8 x 6.7 cm)

Object Number



More elaborate couches and beds were sometimes made not of wood but of bronze, even silver or ivory.

The edges of their head and foot boards were often made in three parts: the fulcrum proper, to which could be added one or two decorative appliqués using a variety of subjects. Most of these, appropriately, were Dionysiac.

These two cast appliqués take the form of mules' heads, or protomes. Nostrils flaring and eyes (inlaid in silver) wide open, these turn outward toward the viewer. One of them has a vine wreathed around its head, the other a ribbon, with silver and copper inlay. A saddlecloth made from a feline skin has been thrown over the back and turned down, revealing a lining with decorative borders of spirals and meanders inlaid in silver and copper. The individual who reclined on the couch would be borne, as it were, on the back of a mule, thereby becoming a participant in a Dionysiac procession (thiasos).

Similar in modeling and in patination, the two protomes differ in size and in details, suggesting that they may come from a pair of couches. They were intended for the outer ends of the fulcra: at the other end, they may well have been balanced by roundels in the form of satyr or maenad heads. The large holes in the necks suggest some form of secondary use in antiquity.

Credit Line

Carlos Collection of Ancient Art


MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, September 2004 - September 15, 2014|
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, September 29, 2014 - Present
MCCM Newsletter, March - May 2003.|
Michael C. Carlos Museum: Highlights of the Collections (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2011), 52.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2006.
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On View



“Fulcra in the Form of a Mule's Head,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed December 16, 2018, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/7690.

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