Purpose: Insecure on its own, it is a starting knot that is used as a component of several hitches, lashings and knots.
Tying: Form a loop around the object. Pass the end around the standing end and through the loop. Tighten into a Half Hitch which is designed to take a load on the standing end.
Animated Knots: http://www.animatedknots.com/halfhitch/