One of the most important toasts in the Armenian tradition is to ojakh, the hearth. The tonir is a sunken hearth that marks the center of a traditional home, both in topography and family life. It is a source for both heat and cooking, particularly for women to bake lavash bread.
Like a womb that gives birth to food and that helps to sustain life, the tonir is one of the home’s most sacred places. In some villages lacking churches, it may even take their role in sanctifying marriages. Moreover, as a source of underground fire, it served as a mystical passage to the lower world, which may explain why the active volcano south of Mount Ararat is called Tondrak in Armenian. Similarly, Armenians share a mythological story about a despairing young woman who jumped into a fiery tonir, only to be transformed into a fish—with water replacing the fire.
Tonirs are typically five feet high and two to three feet in diameter at the rim. Its lightly truncated cone is made of thick coils of clay. As food production—including lavash baking—became more industrialized in Armenia in the twentieth century, the demand decreased for tonirs. However, during the energy shortages of the early 1990s, tonirs were once more in demand. In both villages and cities, traditional tonirs are becoming increasingly popular, used not only for baking lavash, but also serving as fashionable new places in restaurants and stores. -- excerpt from the Smithsonian's 2018 "Armenia: Creating Home" - 4 minutes ago