Tai Sui is best known for his role as the Minister of Time in the order of Heaven. His name is also sometimes given to the ministry itself. As a deity, he was not notably worshipped before 1000 CE and was not regularly worshipped before the Manchu dynasty. He’s a stellar deity and associated with the planet Jupiter, and therefore traditionally worshipped on an altar under the open sky.His story begins during the reign of the corrupt Emperor Chou. Tai Sui was born of this emperor and his queen. At his birth, the child was covered in his caul and thus appeared to be some sort of misshapen lump of flesh.
Interestingly, the birth of a child with a caul over its face is considered an omen in many different folklores. In some, it is considered an omen of very good fortune or a child with powerful magic. In the case of Tai Sui, it most certainly did announce the birth of a personage who would one day achieve deityhood.
Unfortunately, the Emperor had a concubine, Ta Chi, whom he favored above everyone else. She was a bit of a bitch, and there are a number of stories about how she manipulated the Emperor to cause all sorts of suffering during his reign. In this case, she took the unfortunate birth as an opportunity to tell her lover that a “monster” had been born in the palace. The weak-minded Emperor acted quickly on her word, ordering the child to be exposed in the wild. Ta Chi eventually manipulated him into having the queen killed by throwing her from an upper story in the palace.
The child fared well, as children left to the elements tend to do in legends. He was found by a hermit named Shen Zhen-ren who recognized that he was still wearing his birth-caul and quickly cut it from the child. He took the baby to his hermitage and arranged for a woman named Ho Hsien-ku to nurse and raise the child, who was called Yin Chiao (which translates roughly as ‘child found in the suburbs’).
Eventually, Yin Chiao came of age and Ho Hsien-ku told him the story of his birth and his mother’s death. Yin Chiao begged the opportunity to avenge his mother, and the Concubine of Heaven herself provided him with weapons to do so. He went to the palance with the Shang army, and when the palace fell, he seized Ta Chi from the tower where she was hiding and brought her before the victorious King Wu.
As Yin Chiao asked permission to kill her and avenge his mother, Ta Chi turned into smoke and disappeared. Despite this, Yin Chiao was honored as a brave fighter and a pious son. He was canonized soon after.
Today, Tai Sui’s influence is principally felt in feng shui. It is believed that Tai Sui is a dangerous deity who will cause misfortune around him — but he is known for sparing the district he is in in favor of sewing discord in surrounding districts. Thus, advanced feng shui includes a complicated charting system for the diligent practitioner to track which district Tai Sui is in at any given time, how his influence falls on surrounding areas, and thus the practitioner knows how what amulets to hang and how to influence chi to minimize Tai Sui’s misfortunes.