Free UPS Ground Shipping

Take advantage of Free UPS Ground Shipping to the continental USA.

International Shipping

If you are an international customer please proceed through our regular checkout or call in your order; 1-203-554-2385. Shipping charges will not be automatically included. The exact costs for international shipments will be sent to you via e-mail after placing your order online. Upon approval the International shipping charges will then be added to your order except in Canada where it is immediately calculated during checkout. If you would like a shipping quote please email or call us 1-203-554-2385.

Your shipping quote will be calculated based on the exact shipping charges charged to Lotus Masks depending on the weight of the package and the country the order is being shipped. We will email you shipping quotes using both TNT International shipping and the US Postal Service. You can choose which option you prefer. Upon your approval we add the shipping price to the invoice and email you a copy. We then ship the order.

Foster an African Elephant Project

By choosing the 'Foster an African Elephant' Lotus Masks will donate $5 to help foster an orphaned African elephant.

Invisible Children Project

By choosing the 'Invisible Children' Lotus Masks will donate $5 to support the children of war torn Uganda for each African mask purchased.

Save Darfur, Sudan

By choosing the 'Save Darfur' charity Lotus Masks will donate $5 to support the people of Darfur, Sudan for each African mask purchased.


Ancient Empires of West Africa

Quite possibly, Africa is the world's original "melting pot". Surprisingly, even without as much written documentation as other regions of the world, there is quite a bit known about the ancient tribal empires of West Africa. African art, culture and keen oral history are largely responsible for that.

Following the formation of the Sahara Desert around 3000 B.C., one of the earliest documented kingdoms was the Empire of Ghana. Made up of Mande peoples, the Ghana Empire grew to considerable size before the Islamic Sosso (Takrur) people and eventually the Mandinkas took over to form the new Mali Empire.

Founding a university at Timbuktu and expanding trade routes, the Mali Empire flourished under rulers such as Wali Keta and Kankou Musa in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Within the Mali Empire, the prominence of arts and crafts among several ethnic groups grew. Mandinkas and subgroups practiced many traditional rituals, most of which were accompanied by tribal percussion and stringed instruments. The Dogon people, for example, have become known for their secretive metal sculptures of human figures. Additionally, elaborately carved doors as well as African masks of the Dogon are still lauded today for their craftsmanship.

After a series of weak successors following Musa, however, the Mali Empire slowly gave way to the Songhai (Gao) Empire. This revived Islam in the region, though many Dogon of Mali were said to have successfully avoided Islamization. When a Moroccan leader eventually invaded the Songhai, Islam began to spread even quicker within the West African and Sahel regions and more smaller empires grew.

View all our African Masks

South of these empires, however, some tribal city-states established themselves as early as the fourth century. Such empires flourished in present-day Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast and Nigeria and today's African mask makers within the region are largely influenced by the masks of their predecessors.

Traders from Europe arrived in greater numbers during the fifteenth century, and the Portuguese established trading ports of the coast of Senegal. Although the portuguese were among the first to capture Africans and bring them back to their country as slaves, Spain's and England's passing of law to legalize slave trading expanded the practice considerably.

During the demand for slaves by visitors from Europe, many African leaders tried to protect their own people's freedom by warring with other African tribes and selling them into slavery. During and following the slave trade, colonization of Africa became a part of every African nation's history except present-day Ethiopia.

Descendants of West Africans now can be found in significant portions of Caribbean, United States, and Brazilian populations. Some of the arts and crafts in the New World, such as dancing, drumming, and mask making, for example, take root during and after the fifteenth centuries when African slaves arrived on these shores.

Sign up for our newsletter

African Masks Facebook Lotus Masks on Twitter Lotus Masks on You Tube Secure Site