Grand Duke or Tai Sui was probably started as an astronomical concept and evolved into an important metaphysical construct.  For example, in Feng Shui, Grand Duke (GD) represents a direction and space associated with a time frame.  GD is also an important time concept in date-selection.  For example, in a Mao year (rabbit, like 2011), you do not want to choose a You (rooster) day for any important activity because the day clashes Grand Duke.

Tai Sui originally refers to the imaginary or invisible star that orbits around the zodiac in opposite direction of the Jupiter or from west to east along the zodiac.  Sui Xing or yearly star is the visible Jupiter which revolves around the sun once in about 12 years.  The Zodiac is divided into 12 segments and each segment is named after an earthly branch (Chinese Zodiac animal).  Orbit of Tai Sui is assigned with 10 heavenly stems for each year.  Combining the two we have the 60 Tai Sui or Grand Dukes, which fits the 60-years cycle of Chinese calendar system.


The idea of Grand Duke was based on the strong energy field created by Jupiter that is balanced by the imaginary Sui Xing (yin-yang balance principle).  It was not easy to be understood by average people, especially when literacy was not widespread during ancient time.  By assigning a name and face to each of the 60 binomials (GD), people can conceptualize and GD easier than as an energy or qi.

According to Daoism, 60 GDs are the immortals from the North Big Dipper constellation, ruled by Dou-mou , the mother of 60 GDs.   These immortals were born in different historical periods to show and teach people the Dao and righteousness.  The personalities associated with 60 GDs were drawn from actual historical figures who were characterized by high moral principles, civic spirit, patriotism and compassion.  They were mostly pious government officials or loyal and patriotic military generals.  All the 60 GD personalities were taken from pre-1644 time period  (before Qing Dynasty).  So we can deduce the personalization of GD came after 1644. This is relatively “new” in terms of the 5000 years of Chinese history.

According to Daoism,  60 GDs, are the emanations of Dao (“The Way”).  On human level, GD handles the “fortunes and misfortunes, including health and sickness” of people according to their pre-determined destiny and personal choices/behaviors after birth.   GD does not “punish” but simply executes what are scheduled and arrange rewards/disasters based on people’s merits..

However, Daoism also stresses “my destiny is determined by myself and not heaven and earth“.  It holds that if we do charity work and practice kindness,  GD will protect us from misfortune.

According to Daoism, every individual is under the constant observations of two GDs.  One is his/her “Personal GD” or the one’s birth year GD.  For example, I was born in 1955.  GD of 1955 is General Yang Sen.  Yang is my personal GD who is in charge of my life and death events.  He is the Chinese version of your personal guardian angel (note:  there is a daoist method of harnessing the power of one’s Personal GD for success and avoidance of misfortunes).  The second GD is the “Annual GD” which changes every year.  Annual GD is the “ruler of the year” who is in charge of your annual luck and events.

Grand Duke statues inside Qing Shan Temple, Hong Kong

The idea of Personal and Annual GDs to keep track of your good and bad deeds and administer rewards and disincentives accordingly may be scary enough to make some people kow-tow or worship GD.  But some people may treat it as another bogeyman story.  How can Daoism draw a direct relationship of GD to every person on earth?

With Chinese metaphysics, it is easy to accomplish because almost every Chinese metaphysics subject is associated with heavenly stems and earthly branches.  60 Grand Dukes is based on the 60 Jia-zi calendar system.  This means it is in terms of the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals.  People in China are born with an Zodiac animal sign.  The basic interaction rules of branches like 6-clashes, penalty, and combinations are turned into personal relationship between individual and GD.

Basically, if one’s animal sign has any interaction with Annual GD’s animal sign, is generically called “violate GD” (fan tai sui) with clashing GD being the most serious violation that could bring major misfortune, sickness and even death.

At least once every three years one will “violate” GD in some ways and once every 6 years a major clash with GD.  This really brings a major reason to appease GD.  GD worship is an important income source for most Daoist Temples.  Even some Buddhist temples put up Grand Duke Halls to draw in worshipers.

Stems and branches, the “a-b-c” of Chinese Metaphysics, are multidimensional concepts.  They can represent directions, time, seasons, shapes and the likes.  In other words, they can jump or change to different dimensions, be it time, space, seasons and etc..  So for Feng Shui, GD becomes a directional space with strong energy that should not be disturbed or misfortunes will happen.  For example, in Dragon year (2012), GD will be in the Chen mountain (SE1).  One should not have construction or excessive movement there.

For date-selection systems, the logic is similar to Feng Shui except in this case, GD is in terms of time dimensions– year, month, day and hour.  For example, in Chen year (2012), you don’t want to chose a time (month, day, hour) that has the Xu (dog) sign.

The GD concept and its applications are pervasive in Chinese metaphysics.  It is used in Feng Shui, date-selections, Bazi and more.  The origin of it may be just from the 12 branches/ animals!

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