Bao-jhong Yi-min Temple (02Jan11) 095-2.jpg
Bao-jhong Yi-min Temple, Kaohsiung -- These metal sticks are called 'qian' (also transliterated as 'chian' or 'chien') in Chinese.
The Taoist believer asks the gods a question in prayer, then shakes the urn with the sticks inside until one of them sticks out higher than the others. This is the 'qian' that gives him the answer of the gods.
He shows the 'qian' to a monk at the temple who will fetch a corresponding piece of paper with an ancient text on it from a cabinet. The monk proceeds to explain the writing on the paper and interprets its meaning and the gods' answers.