Armenian Tonir BBQ: The Sun In The Ground
Everyone knows, that the Sun was an ancient symbol of Armenians. But not many people know, that the Armenians also have the Sun symbol in the ground – that is the Armenian Tonir. From the time immemorial the tonir was worshiped by Armenians like other Sun symbols, and it is known as a symbol of the “Sun in the ground”.
Pagan Armenians made tonirs in resemblance with the setting Sun “going into the ground” (Sun being the main deity of Armenians at that time). Every time Armenian women are baking lavash or preparing any food in tonir, they bent down before the tonir, which also meant worship of Sun deity.
The underground clay tonir is one of the first tools of Armenian cuisine as an oven. Unlike other people, who also may have something similar to tonir to bake bread – the Armenian tonir actively has been used for various purposes. The Armenians used the tonir to heat the house, moreover, it was used for its medicinal effect (for example, to warm and cure the sick and afficted). Mattresses were spread around, and after dinner, family members sat on the mattresses, legs stretched out under the blanket on the tonir lid. Old people and children fell asleep in the same place, at the tonir. In settlements where there were no church buildings, clergymen had the right to conduct a wedding ceremony in front of the tonir.
The traditional tonir was placed in the center of the house, which was symbolizing the permanent providing of “Sun heat” in the house. The tonir had also a antibacterial effect, as Armenians have used the cow dung, as a fuel, which has been known for its superb medicinal traits since the ancient times.
The tonir not only carry an important meaning in Armenian cuisine, but also have place in Armenian lifestyle. In Armenian families the tonir has always been identified with “Home” – traditionally, the Armenian families have lived under one roof, where, as a rule, in the center of the large room was a tonir. Hence, the tonir was a silent witness of the family’s generational life in good, old days around it.
Though the rules of lifestyle have changed over the time, the custom of baking lavash bread, gata and making a lot of food in a tonir has remained unbreakable. Up to this day, the smoke of tonir is continuing to stay as the symbol of peace, unification and strengthening of the Armenian family and home.
Join Phoenix Tour and spend and unforgettable day with your family in the village house in Garni, tasting the delicious BBQ assortment grill from tonir, and taking part in a traditional Armenian bread lavash making process. The hospitality of the host, meeting with new people and the atmosphere around it for sure will brighten your holidays!
Watch these Tonir BBQ making videos from our YouTube page, at the bottom of this post: