Many other variants of this name appeared in ancient maps: for instance, Russia Alba, Russija Alba, Wit Rusland, Weiß Reußen (Weißreußen), White Russia, Hviterussland, Hvíta Rússland, Weiß Russland (Weißrussland), Ruthenia Alba, Ruthénie Blanche and Weiß Ruthenien (Weißruthenien), assigned to various territories, often quite distant from that of present Belarus. For example, at one time the term was applied to Novgorod.
The 16th century chronicler Alexander Guagnini book Sarmatiae Europeae descriptio popular in Europe, but in fact plagiarized from Maciej Stryjkowski , wrote that Rus' was divided in three parts. The first part, under the rule of the Moscovite Grand Duke, was called White Russia. The second one, under the rule of Polish king, was called Black Russia. And the rest was Red Russia. He also said Moscow was the center of White Russia and Russian metropolitanate, and that Grand Duke of Moscow was called the White Czar, especially by his subjects.
Only by the late 16th century did it somitemes mention as a name for the area of the present Belarus. The origins of the name, which is attested from the 14th century, are unclear Vasmer's dictionary mentions the dichotomy of "white" land and "taxed" land in Domostroi and speculates that "white" Russia may have referred to the parts of Russia that were not subject to Tatar rule. Another speculation in Vasmer is that the color of the clothes of the White Russians (perhaps as well as the color of their hair) may have contributed to the name. Oleg Trubachyov calls both theories "complete fantasies".