Type: Aerophones > Trumpets.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 432.121.14
Region: China, Far East Asia.
Description: Kangling [in Tibetan: རྐང་གླིང་།, Wylie: rkang-gling], literally translated as “leg” [kang] “flute” [ling], is the Tibetan name for a trumpet or horn made out of a human femur, used in Tibetan Buddhism for various chöd rituals as well as funerals performed by a chöpa.
Religious Use: The kangling should only be used in chöd rituals performed outdoors with the chöd damaru and bell. In Tantric chöd practice, the practitioner, motivated by compassion, plays the kangling as a gesture of fearlessness, to summon hungry spirits and demons so that she or he may satisfy their hunger and thereby relieve their sufferings.
It is also played as a way of “cutting off of the ego”. A minor figure from Katok Monastery, the First Chonyi Gyatso, Chopa Lugu [17th – mid-18th century], is remembered for his “nightly bellowing of bone-trumpet [kangling] and shouting of phet” on pilgrimage, much to the irritation of the business traveler who accompanied him. Chopa Lugu became renowned as “The Chod Yogi Who Split a Cliff in China [rgya nag brag bcad gcod pa].
Citations: Bibliography: New Grove Dictionary of Music by Stanley Sadie page 252 Rkang-gling [Tibetan trumpet] ; Vandor: Bouddhisme Tibétan, Paris, 1976. O.C. Handa 2005. Buddhist Monasteries of Himachal; Indus Publishing Company. p. 320. ISBN 81-7387-170-1 ; Andrea Loseries-Leick 2008; Tibetan Mahayoga Tantra: An Ethno Historical Study of Skulls, Bones and Relics. B.R. Pub. Corp. p. 225. Chhosphel, Samten [December 2011]; “The First Chonyi Gyatso, Chopa Lugu”. The Treasury of Lives: Biographies of Himalayan Religious Masters. Retrieved 2013-10-08 ;