The mentalis is a companion to most of the faces of grief. When someone cries, the mentalis frequently acts with the mouth-stretcher, risorius/platysma. The chin-raising muscle alternately contracts and relaxes, bowing up the center of the lower lip and wrinkling the chin when it contracts (top). On either side of the raised part, the stretched lower lip goes back to being straight. The contraction of the mentalis seems to appear almost every time we're sad, whether we're crying or not.
Fifteen centuries before Columbus, this crying infant was carved in stone by an Olmec artisan in Mexico. Such naturalistic depictions of emotion are rare in non-Western art. There is a clear depiction of the upper lip, squared-off and pressed back against the face, of the oblong mouth shape, and of the contraction of mentalis, including the balling up of the chin (A). Compare with face above.
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