Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Memoirs of A Concubine

Surely it was inconceivable that her very own sister, intricately tied to her by heavy bonds of blood and family, could have concocted, compounded and carried out such a malicious scheme solely to sully her reputation in the eyes of the other concubines in the Inner Court. The imperial concubines, supposedly the epitome of courtly elegance, so exquisitely bedecked with silk and pearls - and yet only too quick to abandon all semblance of civilized poise when the slightest opportunity arose to tear down the reputations of their supposed 'sisters' in court. 

Waving away the palace maids that hovered around her anxiously, Concubine Jing paced the floor of her inner chambers while trying to distract herself from her recent troubles. Right on top of her writing desk lay a red lacquered box which she opened to reveal an old letter. Wasn't it only less than a year ago that her kind older sister had written out a perfectly worded invitation begging for her attendance at court? 

Perchance her own star had risen too fast at the unanticipated expense of the other concubines? When it came to the emperor's ever changing affections, there were some who whispered that even the formerly radiant shine of her sister's elaborate Phoenix crown seemed to dim beside her very own lowly concubine tiara. Just a meagre pearl less than the size of her nail adorned that seemingly inconsequential tiara but even that modest gleam seemed to have drawn the lustful eyes of the young emperor - and apparently the jealous wrath of his newly enthroned empress. 

Not the king but hey, a hot prince is always welcome. 

As Concubine Jing unfolded the letter, several dried leaves tumbled out. Rosewood petals. Extremely rare plant indeed - and yet half a leaf was it took to generate an extreme reaction that could lead to death, epecially to someone like her sister who was allergic to it. The germ of a plan immediately came to Concubine Jing.

Was that why she had packed the fairly innocuous leaves along so many months ago when she'd first entered the palace? 

Pardon the wishy-washy pseudo sentimentality but I can't help it especially with Charming Calvin whiling away the afternoons watching what I sneeringly dub Classless Chinese Concubine Catfights.

Unsurprisingly, more than a millenia worth of Imperial China with all the drama, intrigue and scandal contained therein has apparently provided near endless fodder for the Chinese television script writers; even spinning off a particularly trashy genre based purely on the clashes, confrontations and catfights of the imperial harem of the Inner Court. For those unfamiliar with classical Chinese mores, think a purely all-female Game of Thrones with perhaps a dash of Gossip Girl and a dollop of Scream Queens; all dolled up in the lavish intricacies of Imperial Qing Empire concubinage.

Usually with the overarching theme of a good girl gone bad. Way, way bad.

In fact the series called The Empresses in the Palace received such worldwide notoriety that even entertainment giant Netflix has co-opted the hit historical drama - although it was compressed from several dozens of complex episodes to a measly six. Nonetheless the heavily edited version managed to condense most of the pernicious schemes carried out into their pertinent bits without the dull monotonous concubinage chatter.

Simple actually. See wicked concubine. See her plan. See victim drop dead from a myriad of nefariously ingenious ways. See wicked concubine smile.

Apparently quite a few of my friends assume this would be entirely up my alley, not knowing my oft-mentioned preference for sweet, sappy romances with a definite happy ending. Watching the main protagonist - usually innocently pure as driven snow initially - being browbeaten repeatedly by the villainesses before having her abruptly transform into a monstrous bitch simply isn't my kinda show. Usually find such weak-willed doormat characters highly deserving of repeated abuse.

Honestly I like my bitches downright nasty right from the beginning.

1 comment:

William said...

Character development. Zhen Huan needed to find her inner bitch.