A detail of Peace Reigns over the River by Zhang Zeduan (eleventh–twelfth century), showing pawnshops, taverns, restaurants, and shops in a bustling city. Pawnshops first appeared in China in the fifth century.
Pawnshops in China, in existence since the fifth century, operate as small financial institutions. Their general function is to supply fast cash in exchange for goods held in collateral; interest rates, fees, and terms of repayment vary. Pawnshops were forbidden by law from the