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A shang consists of three principal parts: the flat bell part proper; the gankyil, which is the centre piece that holds the knocker; and the knocker or striker proper, which is often made of animal horn.
Traditionally it was believed that wielders use the shang as a tool to "cast" or "throw" tulpas. The shang was also believed to be useful in receiving information from the Eastern or Oriental conception of æther, to induce trance or call spirits. The shang is often used in rites in conjunction with the phurba and namkha.