A Pedestal of Rouge Fragrance
(this title is a line from Li Bai’s poem in praise of the emperor’s beautiful concubine Yang Guifei)
Shan is a songstress on the Qinhuai River who marries imperial scholar Meng, son of Prince Ning. The songstress ’s mentor, Lanling, also takes up residence at the palace following his marriage to Meng’s sister, Xianglun. Envious of what has happened, the senior songstress Jiang, who has long desired the scholar Meng, decides to seek revenge.
One year after Shan and Meng’s wedding, Shan gives birth to a son, Renting. On the evening of the banquet celebrating the child’s first month since its birth, Jiang succeeds in entering the prince’s palace and poisons Meng. Mistaken that Shan has had an affair with his brother-in-law, Meng writes a letter condemning the two on his deathbed. Although the pair is subsequently banished from the household, babyRenting is kept at the palace by his aunt, Xianglun.
As Renting turns eighteen, oblivious of what actually transpired, he wishes to reinstate Shan as his mother.Renting ’s aunt reveals her brother’s letter to the young man and makes him confront his own mother. When the aunt’s husband, Langling, tries to intercede, he accidentally injures Renting. Langling is forced to flee after the incidence, which leads Grandfather Prince Ning to retaliate by arresting Shan and having her drowned as punishment for her past crimes and their current consequences. In order to derail the process,Langling attempts to kidnap Prince Ning but does not succeed. Moved by her guilty conscience, the original culprit, Jiang, finally admits all her conspiratorial deeds and later commits suicide. The names of Shan andLangling are finally cleared.