People say the Xiang and the Lijiang River share the same origin, because the upper reaches of the two rivers are connected by the ancient Lingqu Canal, which is located in Xing'an County, Guangxi. According to a traditional saying, 70% of the water in Lingqu flows into the Xiang and 30% flows into the Lijiang. In the past, the canal, along with the Xiang River and the Gui River provided an important waterway connecting the Yangtze River with the Pearl River Delta.
In the Chinese folk religion, the river is protected by the "Xiang River goddesses" or "Xiang Consorts" Ehuang and Nüying. They are said to have been the daughters of the legendary ruler Yao and the wives of his successor Shun. Unable to bear the pain of their husband's death, they committed suicide in this river. An etiological myth relates the spots on the spotted bamboo (斑竹), also known as the Xiang bamboo (湘竹 or 湘江竹), Xiang Consort bamboo (湘妃竹), and teardrop bamboo (淚竹), to the tears of the weeping consorts. They were worshipped in some form by the people of Chu during the Warring States and its poet Qu Yuan is credited with writing the "Ladies Xiang" (湘夫人) to document the ritual songs in their honor.